How to Lobby Your State Legislator, In Person or Virtually[adapted from FCNL’s guidance on lobby visits]
While many of us are staying home these during the COVID-19 emergency, 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 by phone or online no matter where you are. The elements are the same as your in-person visit, but they are carried out by telephone or 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.
Prepare and Gather
Email and call the scheduler in your legislator’s office to request a lobby visit, whether in person or by telephone or video conference. You may find the scheduler or assistant for your members of Congress on the personal web page for your legislator, linked under their picture in their legislative directory entry for the legislature. (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 conference line or set up your own conference line for everyone to use.
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 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.
- 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.
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 (coming soon).
Although Legislative Aides are listed under Rosters on the LIC, they aren’t listed in other lists of legislators and they aren’t called “schedulers.” Could route folks to the “Rosters,” or might just suggest emailing the legislator, and it will be routed to the appropriate person.