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How to Lobby Your State Legislator, In Person or Virtually

While many of us are staying home these days because of COVID-19, legislator’s offices are open for business and ready to hear from constituents. Virtual lobby meetings can be incredibly effective. They are also simple and easy to do online no matter where you are. The elements are the same as your in-person visit, but they are carried out by videoconference.

Remember, visits with Washington legislators during the session are only scheduled for 15 minutes. Your state legislators usually do not have physical offices in the district, so if you have the chance to meet in person, it may be at the local coffee shop.

You are of course welcome to contact your legislators any time. Quaker Voice is organizing issue-based meetings in the months between sessions (May through November), to review what happened with our priority legislation in the last session and ask what key legislators in our three focus areas are planning for the upcoming year. Our lobbyist is organizing those meetings, collaboratively with the working group clerks. For Quaker Lobby Day, Quaker Voice will be coordinating meetings by district. Register for Lobby Day to receive information on who is making the contact with your legislators for that event. 

Prepare and Gather

For any meetings you are organizing independently, email the legislator to request a lobby visit, whether in person or by video conference. You could also copy the member’s legislative aide, who is often listed on the member’s personal web page, linked under the picture in their legislative directory entry. (You can get to that from the district finder).

Meet with your lobbying group to plan out your lobby visit using the road map below. Write down the logistical details, assign roles, and time a practice session.

Remind everyone of the date and time of your meeting. If you are meeting virtually, ask the office if they have a video connection. Most are sending out their own links now. If you need to set up your own connection and do not have an account, contact the Quaker Voice webspinner for help. 

Your delegation should gather on the telephone or video line at least 10 minutes before the call is set to begin. Once your delegation is gathered—whether in the same room or remotely—take attendance and make sure the note taker has the names, addresses, and email addresses for everyone for the follow-up email.

Make Your Voice Heard: A Road Map for Your In-Session Lobby Visit

  • Each person introduces themselves.
  • The group leader presents a “thank you” for the member of the legislature for something they have done that you appreciate.
  • A delegation member presents the questions you are exploring or bills and issues you are asking them to support.
  • A few delegation members will share their stories to express why action on your lobbying issue is important. Since you only have 15 minutes these must be brief. 
  • Ask your questions to the staffer or legislator. Listen to and write down their answers. Ask what you can do to help them.
  • Thank the staffer or legislator again for their time.

Listening Carefully: A Road Map for Your Between-Session Lobby Visit

  • Each person introduces themselves.
  • The group leader presents a “thank you” for the member of the legislature for something they have done that you appreciate.
  • Designated delegation members ask your questions to the staffer or legislator (as prepared in your pre-session meeting). Listen to and write down their answers. Ask what you can do to help them.
  • Thank the staffer or legislator again for their time.

Follow-up via email and send Quaker Voice a report on your visit

Send an email to the legislator or staffer you met with. Reaffirm the lobby ask and list the contact information of your delegation members. Report your lobby visit to Quaker Voice leadership with our report back form.

[adapted from FCNL’s guidance on lobby visits]
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