Conducting Legislative Meetings

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Conducting Legislative Meetings

Archbishop Mitty H.S.

Mitty Advocacy Project

San Jose, California

“We hear and will stand up for the cries of the silent and suffering.”

General Principles:

  • Legislative meetings encompass the genuine principles of a functioning democracy.
  • An advocate’s success is directly correlated to their preparation and analysis.
  • Advocates do not lobby for self interest, rather the interest of those in most in need.
  • Mail your Talking Points before and after your session to make the most of your meeting.
  • Legislative meetings are about developing relationships with your representatives.  Keep the content and intensity – manageable and efficient.

I.  Legislative meetings encompass the genuine principles of a functioning democracy.
A.  The interchange between a citizen and their representative embodies the premise of representation in America.
B.  Legislative meetings follow a specific professional format.  Please rehearse well before your session to make your visit effective and efficient.

Legislative Meeting Checklist:
1.  Find out the name and contact information for your representative’s scheduler.  Have a few options available to schedule your day and meeting time.

a.  Know your specific issues and legislation (bill titles, numbers, and sponsors) ready to communicate     to the scheduler.

b.  You want your meeting to be with the staffer that directly handles your issue for the representative.  Meeting with the representative is impressive and makes for eye-catching photographs, but meeting with the staffer responsible for your issue is the goal.

c.  Attendance: try and limit your delegates to the most relevant individuals as possible.

The larger the group, the more challenging it becomes to focus your points to a few issues.

(Also, office space is limited. Large groups can be moved to hallways, large rooms, where distractions take away from your message).

    d.  Logistics:  find a map of the complex you are visiting.  Getting to offices with a group can make
elevator use a challenge, budget time to take stairs and finding your office.

2.    Prepare a “Leave Behind”
a.  A Leave Behind is a folder with your business card and Talking Points inside.
b.  Be sure your group facilitator communicates you have a leave behind early in the conversation so
your representative isn’t distracted taking notes.

3.    Attire and Professionalism
a.  Men should wear professional attire: (suit and tie) and women with corresponding professional
attire.  Wear comfortable shoes as most meetings will be spread out all over the capital building.

When visiting the U.S. Capitol House and Senate buildings you may be walking outdoors, dress

accordingly.

b.  Have each member of your delegation rehearse their message.  Ensure the testimony is concise and clear.  Additionally, antagonistic and highly critical comments are inappropriate for this setting.  Remain objective and calm, yet persuasive and forceful with your “ask,” your request for the representative.  Legislative meetings are about developing relationships with your representatives.  Keep the content and intensity – manageable and efficient.

4.  Preparation
a.  The only job during a legislative meeting is to specifically ask for support or a no-vote on
specific legislation.
b.  An advocate’s success is directly correlated to their preparation and analysis.

1.  Your delegation must know:

a.  The bill title and number

b.  The bill’s sponsor(s).

c.  Where the bill is?

1.  Which committee is reviewing the bill.  Know the member of the committee and a little voting history of the committee to anticipate the action with the bill.

2.  The timetable of the bill.  Is it coming for vote?  Has it been sitting

inactive for a period of time?  This is vital as it shapes your ask.

2.  Legislative Strategy

    a.  What committee does the representative sit on?

           *b.  Has the representative sponsored, co-sponsored, and/or voted on similar issues in the past?

    c.  How important is this issue and the reps vote to their constituency?                  1.  Communicate the population (numbers) your delegation represents.

        2.  Gently hint/convey if the representative could lose support if it applies.

3.  The Issues

    a.  Thank and acknowledge all the representative has done to date on the issue.

    b.  Approach the issue with sophistication and tact.

    c.  Counterbalance the factual support with subjective/humanistic accounts.

    d.  Define the specific problematic components of the issue.

    e.  Outline suggestive solutions and express cooperation and a willingness to help

    resolve the issues.

5.  The Facilitator
The facilitator is the point guard of the group of delegates going into the meeting.  An effective facilitator is someone who can think on their feet and adapt to unexpected changes in your meeting – calmly and creatively.

Facilitator Checkist:
1.  Call and confirm your meeting the day before it is scheduled.
2.  Know the name of the person you are meeting with prior to the session.
3.  Know the location and visit the room prior to your meeting.
4.  Hold a rehearsal meeting with your delegation 30 Minutes prior to your meeting time.
5.  Have a Plan B in the event a member of your delegation is late or does not show.
Have extra copies of your Talking Points to give to this person so they can quickly prepare.
6.  About 8 minutes prior to the meeting, check in with the office administrator.  Have your delegation
rehearse their message while you are inside.  Pick up a business card of the person you’re meeting with
from the main desk, if available.
7.  Give direct and honest feedback to your delegates.  Keep talkative members concise, emotional members
calm, quiet members energized, etc.
8.  Inform your delegation to keep an eye on you during the meeting.  When you tap your wrist they have to
stop talking, etc.
9.  Introduce yourself and provide the credentials of your group (numbers of people you represent, the
importance of the issues) then introduce your first delegate.
10.  Thank and deliver your ask to the representative.
11.  Follow-up your meeting with a thank you letter.  Bullet point your issues and conclude with your ask.

Miscellaneous Reminders:

1.  Ask one question at a time.  If you ask more than one question, the representative has creative license to answer in a general fashion.