Tips for a Successful Legislative Visit
Before You Go
- Call your legislators’ offices and schedule appointments 2 weeks in advance, if possible. Tell the office you will be in town and that you would like to meet with your legislator to discuss child health issues.
- Wear business attire with comfortable shoes. With security and parking issues, you can be guaranteed to walk a great deal during your visit!
- At the State Legislature, white coats are readily identified and welcomed, so bring your white coat (even if this is the only day you will wear it). Bring a pen, business cards, and talking points to leave behind.
- Arrive early for your appointment.
- You must go through 911 security to enter all state and federal buildings. Keep your personal effects to a minimum. Cameras and cell phones are okay.
What to Expect
- Meetings at the state level may be with the legislators themselves or with their legislative aides.
- Most visits are very brief (10-15 minutes would not be unusual).
- You may end up meeting in the hallways, walking with the legislator or aide on the way to a press conference or other meeting, or in the crowded lobby of their office.
Stay on Message
- Share personal experience or data that demonstrates how a certain policy will affect your patients, your practice, your community, your hospital.
- If asked a question about the other side of your argument, answer the question as completely as you can, giving your particular perspective.
Keep it Brief
- If you are requesting action, communicate that up front.
- Because legislators’ time is limited, have a plan to budget your time appropriately.
Frame the Issue as it Affects the Legislator
- Your case is stronger if you present the issue as the legislator sees it.
- Recognize that you seldom get everything you ask for and that compromise is important.
- If they ask you something that you don’t know, offer to get them the correct information.
- Never argue.
Work with Staff
- Be on time and let the receptionist know you’re there.
- Never view staff as a “second resort.” Legislators depend heavily on them.
- The key to effective legislative advocacy is to develop an on-going relationship with your legislators and their legislative aides.
Say “Thank You”
- Send a thank you note after your visit. Use email or fax (traditional mail has to be screened and will not arrive for a very long time).
- Follow-up promptly with any information that you have promised to provide to legislators or staff.