DO

  • Get to know your own Rep­re­sen­ta­tive and Sen­a­tor.  No one has more influ­ence with a leg­is­la­tor than a vot­ing con­stituent!
  • Remem­ber that per­son­al com­mu­ni­ca­tions with your leg­is­la­tor are the most effec­tive.  In-per­son con­tacts, tele­phone calls, hand-writ­ten notes are the most like­ly to get the legislator’s atten­tion.
  • Be sure your leg­is­la­tor knows who you rep­re­sent, or what group you are a mem­ber of when you con­tact him/her about an issue.  This is par­tic­u­lar­ly impor­tant when con­tact­ing a leg­is­la­tor from a dis­trict oth­er than your own.
  • Be polite, be brief, be spe­cif­ic (using the bill num­ber if pos­si­ble) in your com­mu­ni­ca­tions.  Offer to answer ques­tions or to get more infor­ma­tion if you are asked a ques­tion.  It is much bet­ter to say that you don’t know that answer but will get back with it, than to give a wrong answer or mis­lead­ing infor­ma­tion!
  • Be a good lis­ten­er and hear out what the leg­is­la­tor has to say on the issue.
  • Know how the process works:  the com­mit­tee sys­tem, the timetable, how bills come for a vote, etc.  Let the leg­is­la­tor know that you have done your home­work!

DON’T

  • Be pushy.  If you are told that a leg­is­la­tor can­not see you, ask to make anoth­er appoint­ment or leave a note and fol­low up at a lat­er time.
  • Be sar­cas­tic, crit­i­cal or threat­en­ing.  And don’t embar­rass or con­tin­u­al­ly argue with a leg­is­la­tor.  Don’t say to a leg­is­la­tor, “You promised me.…”  If any­thing, say “I under­stood your posi­tion to be.…”
  • Extend your vis­it beyond a rea­son­able amount of time.
  • Be mis­lead­ing with a leg­is­la­tor — either about the facts, the extent of the issues or the oppo­si­tion to your posi­tion.
  • Try to tell the leg­is­la­tor how to vote on a bill.  Instead, point out how a vote one way or the oth­er will affect the issue…and the legislator’s con­stituen­cy.
  • Show anger or resent­ment toward a leg­is­la­tor who votes against you.  The leg­isla­tive process is a long and on-going one, and chances are that you will need to gain the sup­port of that leg­is­la­tor anoth­er time on anoth­er issue!
  • For­get to say “Thank You!” to the leg­is­la­tor or pol­i­cy-mak­er and to the staff…and don’t for­get to fol­low up with a hand-writ­ten Thank You note!

Sheila A. Schus­ter, Ph.D. — 120 Sears Avenue, Suite 212 — Louisville, KY 40207 502–894-0222    Email:  advocacyaction@bellsouth.net      Web­site:  www.advocacyaction.net

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