Advocacy Training Materials

 

Advocacy and lobbying are central to being an informed and active participant in government. We've filled this page helpful information, resources, guidelines, training videos, and tools that will help you become a better advocate for yourself, your community, and the League. On this page you will find . . . 

Positions and General Guidelines

 

 

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Sunshine Laws

LWVUS Resource Guide for Observing Your Government in Action​ : A great general guide that includes the importance of Sunshine through getting an Observer Corps up and running

Law in Ohio: ​Ohio’s public records and open meetings laws, collectively known as the "Sunshine Laws," give Ohioans access to government meetings and records.

  • Yellow Book:​ ​The Sunshine Laws Manual, also known as the "Yellow Book," provides summaries of Revised Code provisions and case law regarding the Ohio Public Records Act and Open Meetings Act. 

  • Sunshine Law Videos:​ ​To assist and educate members of the public in understanding and accessing Ohio's Sunshine Laws, the AGO has developed ​several informational videos​ on the topics about which they frequently receive questions.

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Understanding the Ohio Legislature and Tools for Tracking and Observing Legislation

 

The 134th General Assembly: Contains the names and information of all Ohio legislators in the 134th General Assembly in one spreadsheet.

A Guidebook for Ohio Legislators​ published by the ​Legislative Service Commission​. For additional, more in depth information on this topic, please refer to the ​Guidebook​. It includes a listing of all terms used.

 

The Ohio Legislature official site. You can create a free account that allows you to target bills and committees. You then will be sent email updates.

 

Legiscan​ is an online service that tracks bills. At the concerned individual level it is free. You can register, create a password and list bills you are following. Email alerts are sent when there is movement of the bill.

 

The Ohio Channel​ live streams legislative sessions and many committee meetings​. Recordings are also available to watch on demand.

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Training Videos from Our YouTube Channel

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Tips for Meeting with a Legislator

All advocacy begins with relationships and education. Local Leagues keep asking for more on how to advocate in a meaningful way. On any level, it is a matter of building credible relationships. At a state level, it is also about speaking with one voice.

 

The Local League is very important in an overall strategy for advocacy at a state level. Legislators want to hear from their own constituents, and not just when they want specific action on legislation.

 

We are at the start of a new General Assembly. It is the perfect time to start a working relationship with legislators, whether new or veterans, by conversing about priorities and plans. Knowing their priorities helps in approaching legislators on issues, finding out how we can help with some legislation or where we need to do a little more education.

 

1.  Making the appointment:

  • You will get more time if you treat this as a regular League meeting to which you are inviting your legislator.

  • Email with a follow-up phone call to make arrangements for Zoom meeting.

  • If you do not hear back in 24-48 hours, call again.

  • The ask: With the start of a new General Assembly, it is important to learn more about the people who represent us in Columbus. Our League would like to hear about your priorities. We would also like to dialogue about some issues that are important for us. This is just a getting to know you better meeting.

 

2.  Once you have an appointment:

  • Decide on type of meeting: open to small group who will then be ready to follow through or a more general meeting. Don’t be afraid to just hand pick a small group based on interests of your League.

  • Decide who introduces the meeting with a review of its purpose.

  • Make sure group understands ahead of time that this is an informational meeting, not a confrontation or debate. You are trying to establish a relationship through civil dialogue.

  • Do some research ahead of time: family, issues of interest, something they have sponsored in the community… Show that you value them personally.

  • Decide on who will ask what questions. Set an agenda with time limits for each topic and stick to it.

  • You might practice how to make it more of a conversation on each issue.

  • Make sure you are familiar with the most important of our positions.

  • Know who is taking notes.

 

3.  The meeting:

  • Start with a thank you for agreeing to meet.

  • Relate to the legislator in some way: comment on something they have done or ask about their children or an issue that you know is of interest.

  • Start by asking what committees they will be serving on if you don’t know yet. Or you can comment on the importance of some leadership position that they hold.

  • First questions should be about their priorities! If some of their priorities correspond with League positions, you can start a dialogue. If asked about where League stands on something, if you don’t know or are not sure, don’t be afraid to say you will get back with an answer.

  • Based on the points shared, talk about how that matches or doesn’t match League positions and/or priorities.

  • Take some time to make sure you discuss the priorities of League. (Please note that while these items are generally listed by priority for the League, you will only have time to discuss one or two of them and priorities to be discussed may differ based on a number of factor including your local League and the current political climate.

    • Increasing voter accessibility, security, and accuracy.  

    • gerrymandering/redistricting

    • Transparency in government

    • Money in politics

    • Education finance/Fair Funding

    • Environment

    • Health Equity

  • Thank the Senator or Representative for taking time for this important discussion.

 

4.  After the meeting,

  • Send a thank you note.

  • Follow up with any materials you deem important.

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Tips for LTEs and op-eds

Tips for Writing Letters to the Editor

Letters to the editor (LTEs) are typically short piece (< 300 words), in contrast with opinion pieces (op-eds) which may be longer (800-1200 words).

 

Newspapers publish them as a space for social debate on opinions or to discuss issues missed by the regular news. They are written with a clear opinion and chosen by the editor of the paper. They are popular because they are among the most read sections in the newspaper. Legislators will read them to get a feel for concerns of constituents. This is another way to educate the public.

 

  • Before you begin writing

    • Pay attention to submission requirements (word length, how to submit). We've linked this information below to some of the biggest papers in the state. 

    • Read other opinion/LTEs in that newspaper to get a sense of the criteria they use.

    • If you have a relationship, call or discuss the opinion piece with the editor before submitting. For example, sometimes editors feel a story or particular angle has been exhausted and may indicate the need for a fresh angle. Relationships are easier to establish with local or community papers.

  • How to write a letter to the editor/op-ed

    • ​Connect it with something that is already happening in the news. Reference a former article that the newspaper wrote, or an event that happened in the community. Then link it to what you want to talk about.

    • Order makes a difference: Keep the more important part of your message at the top. Sometimes editors may cut out the last part of your letter.

    • Be concise and efficient with your words: Make sure every sentence has its own purpose.

    • Stay on one message and don’t use jargon: Make sure you know your message, what you want to say, and use clear and simple language—short words and sentences go a long way!

    • If you have a strong personal story, include it (a compelling human story goes a long way to hook editors and readers).

    • Proofread!

    • Make sure you include your name, city and contact information.

    • It is best to submit your piece via email, either in the body of your email or as an attachment.

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Tips for Writing to Legislators

  • Use personal or organizational stationery if mailing or use the legislator’s contact form for timely opinions. The contact form is designed to remind you of essentials: complete contact information that shows that you are a constituent and the topic of your letter.

  • If you are establishing a relationship on the issue by writing regularly, do use the mail. Knowledgeable constituents and regular donors who regularly weigh in on issues have their letters directly put in legislators’ hands. Other letters are read by aides and logged as to support or opposition.

  • Use Proper Salutation. The salutation should be "Dear Representative Smith" or Dear Senator Smith" depending on the office held. The address should read: Honorable Jim Smith, Address, City, State, Zip.

  • Be polite and informative.  Begin the letter with a short paragraph that describes the issue and the request you are making. An example of a standard opening sentence is: "I am writing about HB 1234, the Automatic Voter Registration Act, currently before the legislature. I encourage you to support this legislation as written  ...." or “I am writing about SB123, legislation which would eliminate peace officer training for armed school personnel. Please oppose this legislation on the grounds that …”

 

Focus on Key Points. Don't make the communication too wordy. Try to use common terms and language. Don’t use specialized jargon. A one-page letter is ideal, but two pages are acceptable.

 

  • Stay on message! Avoid discussing tangential issues that will dilute or confuse that message.

  • If you have background or are trained in a related field, use that information with your title. Expert information does make a difference.

  • If you have a personal story related to the issue, tell your story. Legislators cannot know everything that is happening. If everyone with a personal story would tell the story, legislators would have a better picture of the impact of legislation on their constituents.

  • Personal, original letters have greater impact then form letters. There is a role for both. Form letters do help with immediate needs to show support or opposition to specific legislation.

  • Hint for mail campaigns: Use postcards that are easily read and catalogued as to support or opposition. Use heavier stock since in really large campaigns mail is weighed rather than counted.

  • In Closing. Simply recap the main points and encourage specific action. Don't be vague. Requests should be clear, concise and as specific as possible, such as to co-sponsor a bill. If you have background on the issue, offer to speak with the legislator by providing a telephone number where you can be reached. If contacted by the policy maker or a staff member, be sure to make the time to talk or visit with that person.

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General Tips:

 

  • Sign up for legislative committee list-serves ​to receive email updates related to committees, including time, location, and agenda of scheduled meetings. You can contact the committee chair’s office to be added to the committee email list. This will let you track bills moving through the committee process and provide information about how to submit and present testimony when appropriate. Some committees require testimony be submitted at least 24 hours in advance of the hearing, others have different deadlines and requirements; if this information is not laid out in the committee announcement, you can contact the chair’s office and ask their staff.]

 

  • State Representatives’ email addresses ​are standard: RepXX@ohiohouse.gov, where XX is their two-digit district number (e.g. 01, 02 ... 10, 11, etc.). State Senator email addresses are typically ​lastname@ohiosenate.gov​ (unless there is more than one senator with the same last name or the last name is common. 

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Contact Us: 

100 East Broad Street, Suite 1310

Columbus, Ohio 43215

Email: lwvoinfo@lwvohio.org

Press/Media inquiries: press@lwvohio.org

Phone Number: (614) 469-1505

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