Setting up an Appointment 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.

5. Keeping the relationship going

  • Pay attention as the General Assembly is in session to what is being supported ot opposed by your legislators

  • Drop them an email every once in awhile with a comment

  • If you see them sponsor a bill of interest, refer to comments from your meeting with them in your ask on the legislation

  • Visit them during home office hours 

  • Arrange another meeting to follow up with bills that are moving