Be polite and professional: 

  • Identify yourself and leave your contact information.  
  • If you are a constituent or represent an organization, be sure to say so. 
  • Bring multiple copies of materials for the legislator and staff to review. 

 

Be a credible resource: 

  • Study the issue so you can confidently state the facts. 
  • Use a local angle to explain how a bill will impact the legislator’s district. 
  • Notify the legislator of any pending deadlines for making a decision. 

 

Be respectful of the legislator’s time: 

  • Always show up on time for appointments and meetings. 
  • Be as brief as possible while including specifics. Keep letters to one page. 
  • Practice what you’ll say before meeting legislators, and always thank them for their time. 

 

Be a friendly, familiar face:  

  • Stay connected with legislators year-round, not just during the legislative session. Get to know the staff, especially the staffer who handles animal welfare issues.  
  • Thank legislators for animal-friendly votes and invite them to celebrations, workshops, and other events. 

 

Be reasonable: 

  • Realize that everyone thinks his or her issue is the most important one being considered.
  • Prioritize issues. Decide from the start if an issue is worth risking a relationship with a legislator.
  • Frame animal issues as nonpartisan, common-sense issues.  
  • Don’t be rude or threatening in any way. Rudeness will not help your cause.
  • Don’t press for an answer on your first visit. 
  • Don’t assume legislators are crooked. With rare exceptions, they are honest, intelligent folks.
  • Don’t distort the facts. Present your position honestly.  
  • Don’t guess at answers to legislator’s questions. If you don’t know the answer, tell them you’ll find the information and get back to them as soon as possible. 
  • Don’t break a promise. If you tell a legislator, you will get back to them, follow through.
  • Don’t assume the legislator or staff has read or remembers something you sent.
  • Don’t be offended if they forget who you are, even if it is just five minutes after your visit.
  • Don’t send form letters.
  • Don’t begin by saying, “As a citizen and taxpayer....” 
  • Don’t say, “I hope this gets by your secretary....” 
  • Don’t write to members of the House when the vote is in the Senate, and vice versa.
  • Don’t complain or gossip about your legislator or their staff to others, especially on social media. 
  • Don’t blame legislators for all the things that go wrong in government. 

 

Don’t become enemies when you disagree. Today’s adversary could be tomorrow’s ally!