New to legislative advocacy? Here's how you can get started:
Updated: Mar 24, 2021
Legislative meetings are a crucial component of effective advocacy. While most think of professional lobbyists, members of the general public also have the opportunity to discuss important issues with their legislators. These meetings usually last about 30 minutes, and they allow legislators to better understand what matters most with their constituents.
If you haven't reached out to your legislators, we've made it even easier to do just that. The link below is our legislator lookup tool which will tell you your state senator and representative. Even better, you can share the tool on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or via email, so you can help others get in contact too. After you input your street address and ZIP code, the tool will pull up your legislators, their photos, and their contact information! Once you've got your legislators' information, you can take steps to set up a meeting with them.
How to set up a legislative meeting:
1. Send a written request to your representative and their aides:
Include information such as the bill number and the issue that you want to talk about.
Let them know the dates and times that you're available.
Tell them that you're their constituent.
If you don't receive a response, follow up by phone!
Senators' emails are formatted like this:
2. Once you've set up a meeting, make sure you prepare your talking points and/materials
You should have a good idea of what you want to say in advance, so making an agenda might help you stay on topic.
Sharing your personal story and lived experiences is a good way to show your representative how an issue impacts people's lives.
If multiple people are coming to your meeting, make sure you know who is saying what and when.
Don't bring more than a couple of documents to give to the legislator. For virtual meetings, showing a PowerPoint is helpful.
3. During the meeting...
Remember to introduce yourself!
It's okay to say "I don't know" or "I'm not sure." Then, you can offer to find out and provide that information in a follow-up email. Never make up an answer!
Engage your representative in discussion: asking questions about their position on an issue is a great way to keep yourself from 'talking at' the representative the entire time.
Keep on track; you likely will not have long to speak with an official or their staff.
4. After the meeting...
Send a personalized thank-you to your representative ASAP.
Send over any materials or information you told them you'd get back to them.
Their schedules may be packed right now, so don't be discouraged if you can't book a meeting right away. Since the budget bill is in House, you may have more luck reaching out to senators this month. If you can't get a meeting, another great option is simply sending an email or making a call to their office in support. Remember, your legislators work for you, and they want to hear what you have to say! For more tips on how to request a meeting and what to do during one, you can check out the ACLU's resource page here.
If you want more to receive, HCBS talking points, action alerts, and more tips on legislative advocacy you can learn about joining the coalition here.