If you’ve never done it before, it might feel intimidating to meet with your legislator. These tips help you prepare for a meeting, what to talk about with your legislator, and how to follow up after the meeting.
Be on time. Though legislators or their staff might not be able to see you at the appointed time because their schedules are unpredictable during session, they will expect you to be punctual.
Talk with legislators’ staff. If your legislator is not available, it is always worth your time to talk with their legislative assistant(s).
Introduce yourself as a constituent. Thank the legislator for taking the time to meet with you. Identify the organization you are affiliated with. Tell a little about your agency’s mission and if you know, how many domestic violence victims and children are served.
State your purpose. Be clear about what legislation you are supporting or opposing. Mention the legislation by bill number and topic. Let the legislator know your position and why you are asking them to vote for that position.
About legislation that requires funding
- When asking legislators to support legislation that requires continuing funding, they want to know two things:
- How the money was successfully spent in the past, and
- Why you need continued funding
- Tell stories, indicating how the funding supported services, or where gaps in funding resulted in a shortfall of services in their district.
Bring local data to support your arguments. The data should be relevant to your legislator’s district and key constituencies. Let them know you are available as a resource.
Tell constituent stories. A personal story about how a bill could resolve a problem faced by a survivor, or a story about how your program has helped people in the legislator’s district, can go a long way in winning support. It personalizes the issue.
Give them a chance to talk about their perspective on your issue and listen carefully.
Try to draw out specific answers to your questions. Legislators often speak generally, and may avoid the issues. Ask for their vote and try to get a commitment at the meeting.
If you don’t have an answer, find out. A legislator may ask you detailed questions about a particular bill that you can’t answer. Offer to have someone follow up with them, and let WSCADV know about their question.
Send a thank you note to your legislator (or their staff). Summarize your understanding of what the legislator has agreed to do. Remind her/him that you are available as a resource.
Keep WSCADV informed of your lobbying efforts by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.