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.
- 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!