Tips for a Successful Legislative Visit

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.


Security

  • 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.