It’s Legislative Season – How to Play a Role

Like Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of Summer, last night’s State of the Union Address by our President marks the unofficial start of Legislative sessions, not just in Washington D.C., but in capitals in every state. How are you engaging in the process? You cannot leave it to your state association to advocate for you. You have a responsibility as a business owner, industry leader, voter, to engage with your Legislator.

I dusted off a piece How to Play a Key Role In Our Representative Form of Government. I did not pen it. I would freely give credit to the author but there is none so with that disclaimer of plagiarism, here’s How to Play a Key Role In Our Representative Form of Government:

Get to know your local Senator and Representative. You should become personally acquainted with your senator and representative. Take a sincere interest in them, and get  know their political philosophies. If you contact your legislators only when you want their support on a legislative matter, it may be too late. It is better to be in touch with them throughout their term of office, thereby creating an ongoing, working relationship.

Make sure your local views are heard and listened to. Few people ever contact their legislators. This reluctance usually results from the belief that legislators have no time or inclination to answer their phones or read their mail, and that one single contact will not make a difference anyway. In most cases, these views are wrong. Thoughtful and persuasive contacts can change a legislator’s mind and bring about a review of his or her positions.

Arrange for meetings when your legislator are back in the district. Talk to your legislators when they are back home as they are more likely to listen and respond positively in a local environment – on your turf. Your senator and representative need to directly exposed to the people they represent – including you as a local businessperson/community leader. They need to know what you think about the issues facing your community and the state, and how legislation pending in the capital will affect your operation. That is why they are in the Legislature.

Helpful Hints:

Know the Procedure – How does a bill become a law?

Evaluate the Issues – Give priority in your lobbying to important issues.

Deal with Principles – If your legislators really support business, most of your battles are won.

Recognize their Problems – Your legislators represent all of the constituents in your area – rural and urban, rich and poor, liberal and conservative, business and labor. Try to understand their problems, outlook and objectives.

Never Threaten – Never threaten political or other consequences if your legislator refuses to see an issue your way.

Inform Allies – If you request introduction of a bill by your legislator, let potential allies know.

Communicate in a Timely Manner – Contacts with legislators before a committee vote and before floor action by the committee of the whole. In both chambers of the legislature, are most effective.

Be Accurate – Be sure to have accurate facts and good arguments about any issues you discuss with your legislators.

Do Not Be Argumentative – Make your point, but do not engage in a quarrelsome debate.

Follow Up Your Request – If you have made your request for a certain action – in person, by letter or telephone call – follow it through.

Show Your Appreciation – When your legislators do a good job on a piece of legislation, tell them about it. Do not take it for granted that they know you are appreciative of their efforts.

Give Them Your Support – If you believe your legislators deserve re-election, do not hesitate to get involved when they are campaigning for another term.

You have additional tips or hints you’d like to share? Or an antidote to support any of the points above? Please share with us below.

Thanks for reading.

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