MEETING YOUR LEGISLATOR
Each person has 2 State House Representatives and 1 State Senate per District.
A great resource to FIND OUT WHO your legislators are and their contact information:
These Legislators will be in their home town (unless campaigning) until the beginning of the Legislative session in January and will have more time to meet with you before the session starts. Then many stay in Boise during our 4 month Legislative session and are very busy at that this time.
What follows are some additional tips to help you present your case effectively.
1. Be informed.
The most effective lobbyist is one who is well informed about both the issues to be discussed and the member of the legislature, his/her voting record, background, and constituent concerns within the district.
2. Be prepared.
Have data – three kinds of data are preferred: general statewide data, data specific to your district and your personal story. Your story is most important. Know your position and the rationale for that position.
3. Be friendly.
Don’t let persuasion turn into a threat.
4. Be open.
Be prepared to listen and to speak. But be sure you structure the meeting so you have an opportunity to do both.
5. Be calm.
The better prepared you are in terms of having background information and rationale for a position, the better you will be able to maintain a professional demeanor.
6. Give examples.
This is your family, your personal health and your community.
7. Don’t argue.
If you find yourself in a disagreement with your member of the legislature, don’t get embroiled in an argument. Your responsibility is to present your case, not necessarily to win your case.
8. Don’t apologize.
Never apologize or undercut your position. Remember you are speaking for your community, your family, your children.
9. Don’t get sidetracked.
Don’t let listening to the legislator’s point of view turn into getting sidetracked on to other issues. If a member of the legislature puts you on the defensive or asks you to prioritize among positions, don’t let yourself agree to negative statements about a position of make seat-of-the-pants selections among health freedom priorities.
10. Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know.
Some legislators may intentionally attempt to deal with issues that you do not have a solid grounding in. Some may ask specific questions for which you have no answers. If you’re not sure of an answer, say, “I’ll check and get back to you.” Then, follow up – get in touch with HFI and find out the answer and let your legislator know what the answer was.
11. Find common ground.
Even if a legislator does not support the position you are presenting, he/she probably believes in the value of liberty, choice and freedom. But if he/she doesn’t even believe in that, every legislator still has the responsibility of attending to the concerns of all his/her constituents.
12. Don’t give up.
Continue to keep your legislator informed about the impact of an issue, even after it has passed. If they voted to support a program that works, let them know how it works. If they opposed a program that was successful, let them know it works. If they opposed a program that wasn’t enacted, let them know the need still exists.
During the legislative session, HFI will send out Action Alerts requesting you contact your representative on proposed legislation. This will often involve a quick phone call or simple email. This shouldn’t be the only time you are in contact with your legislator. Taking time to develop a relationship with your elected official off season will allow you the opportunity develop an open line of communication based on mutual respect.
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