It’s that time again. Legislative session is about to begin, and League members everywhere are poised to take action on the causes that excite them. It’s time to go over what works best.
#1 Write a letter. E-mails are better than nothing, phone calls are better than e-mails, but post office mail is best. And if it’s hand-written (as opposed to typed) that tells the legislator and staff that you really do care. You took the time to take pen in hand!
#2 If you’re writing to a federal legislator, send the letter to the district office. Screening for hazardous materials slows down mail to the DC office.
#3 If you phone you will, of course, get a staffer. Once you identify yourself, tell the aide what your message is and why you hold that position. Ask for the legislator’s position and ask for a written response to your phone call.
#4 When writing a letter,
• state the purpose of the letter in the first few sentences;
• if writing about a specific piece of legislation, use the bill number;
• be polite, be concise, include key information, and use examples to support your position;
• acknowledge the legislator for something s/he did or said recently;
• ask for a reply; and
• keep it to one page, if possible.
Well, are you? For special events, like the Environmental Rally in Tally or the trip to support Gun Safety, or to attend League’s Capitol Impact Days — there’s a lot going on and we in League know that our state government makes critical decisions that impact our daily quality of life.
Meeting with your legislator or his/her staff is a very effective way to convey a message about a specific legislative issue.
Here are a few pointers to remember:
- You will probably actually meet with a staff member, but that is NOT Staff members do most of the research and groundwork for their legislator and then make recommendations. They are very influential. Be polite and grateful for their time and attention.
- Plan your visit carefully. Be clear what it is you want to achieve. If you are visiting as a member of a team, assign parts so that everyone participates without repetitions.
- Make an appointment and be prompt – and patient. There are a lot demands on scarce time and people run late. Be flexible if necessary.
- Be prepared. Have the bill numbers ready. Bring to the meeting information and materials supporting your position, including examples that demonstrate clearly the impact or benefits of your issue or piece of legislation.
- Be political (which doesn’t mean partisan.) Demonstrate the connection between what you are requesting and the interests of the member’s constituency. For example, if the issue is how to use Amendment One money, remind him/her of the margin by which it passed in his/her district and how it was presented during petition-gathering. Perhaps the number of people in organizations supporting your cause, or the number of letters to the editor will help demonstrate the support your cause has.
- Be responsive. Be prepared to answer questions or provide additional information.
- Follow up the meeting with a thank-you letter that outlines the different points covered during the meeting, and send along any additional information or materials requested.
Now – go get ‘em! You are volunteering your time, energy and expenses to represent the public good. This is part of how League “makes democracy work!”
Shared by Pat Southward, Voter Services Chair
Right now there is a strong push by the hospital association, chamber of commerce, and a number of other interested groups to close the gap in health care coverage in the state of Florida. The legislature will soon receive their suggestions and recommendations. The League supports efforts to bring expanded health care to those left out of current programs, and is supportive of the efforts of these outside organizations, while doing what it can to bring attention to the issue.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
- Join us for the LWVF Capitol Impact Days in Tallahassee on March 10-12, 2015 to help lobby and participate in our Statewide Day of Action on March 11! There may be funds available to help with costs – ask your Health Care Committee.
Help your Health Care Committee plan and/or host a local event to tie-in with the Statewide Day of Action on March 11
Help plan and/or host call-in or write-in days, educational events, press conferences and/or rallies with partner organizations
Identify, make introductions to, and or meet with chamber, business or hospital leaders
Help make appointments with business leaders for your League leaders
Make copies, prepare packets of materials and help with other administrative duties
Distribute info and pledge cards to local businesses with whom you do business, i.e., your hairdresser, veterinarian, grocery store, lawn maintenance company, drycleaner, local retail stores
Help educate your faith organization, committees, book club, social organizations and the public
Make calls and write letters to legislators
Join the speakers bureau and make PowerPoint presentations
LWV FLORIDA reminds us (in the following link) to pay special attention to Absentee Voting in the upcoming local elections.
The main item on the agenda at the Seminole Soil and Water Conservation District meeting on February 17th was whether or not to write letters of support for SB166 and HB169. SB166 would ban hydraulic fracturing (fracking). HB169 would prohibit stimulation treatments on wells.
Before it was discussed by the supervisors, three members of the public spoke in favor of the bills, and no one spoke against. After an informative slide show and a lively discussion, the votes were taken. The vote was 3-2 against supporting SB166, with Supervisors Benson and Duncan voting for it and Supervisors Young, Kendrick, and York voting against. The motion to support HB169 passed 3-2. Supervisors Benson, Duncan, and Young voted for and Supervisors Kendrick and York against.
Submitted by Observer Corp Chair, Joan Bradley