How to Visit Your Senators and Representative
A personal visit with your Representative or Senators can be
anxiety-creating, exciting and rewarding. The following are some steps and
tips to make such a visit most effective.
BEFORE YOUR VISIT:
- Make an appointment.
- Make contact by letter or by phone to meet at a district office or
the Capitol office.
- Confirm appointment by phone, mail, or fax.
- Appointments with legislative aids are also valuable.
- Brief yourself about your legislator
- General extent of the district.
- Committee assignments.
- Number of terms served.
- Professional background.
- Voting record on issues of your interest.
- Views stated publicly on issues of your interest.
- Define the objectives of your visit.
- Is your objective to get acquainted, express general views, or
discuss specific issues?
- Limit the number of issues to be discussed.
- Brief yourself on the facts surrounding the issue and your views
- Briefly outline your comments and/or prepare written summary.
- Appointment may start late.
- Legislator may be in session and unavailable - Plan to either
wait, meet with staff, make new appointment, meet legislator at place
- Lengths of meeting may range from 10-15 minutes to an hour.
- Going as a group has advantages, especially if representing a
broad base of people and organizations.
- Who (if going as a group) will be spokesperson, introduce
group, guide conversation, provide summary of issue concern, assign
specific roles to each participant, etc?
WHILE YOU'RE THERE
- Introduce yourself, giving BRIEF information on your...
- Place of residence
- Length of residence
- Church membership
- Occupation, student status, volunteer involvements
- Voter/political involvement
- Group you are representing (if any)
- Your experience and expertise relevant to the issue for discussion
- Set climate of visit.
- Be on time
- Be positive and friendly - not argumentative
- Acknowledge areas of agreement
- Acknowledge areas of appreciation
- State reason for visit.
- Be concise and specific
- State position and recommendation on issue
- Identify your position or that of group which you represent
- Leave a written summary of your position (if available),
reference material, calling card
- Ask for related legislative materials: copy of bill, analysis of
bill, brochures on Senate or House, etc.
- During the conversation.
- Meet and write down names of staff person assigned your issue of
- Don't let questions or comments derail your purpose
- Admit you need to think more about a new point raised; ask if they
will consider written response later
- Ask specific questions; request specific responses
- Explore options of attending committee meetings or hearings,
visiting galleries, etc.
AFTER YOUR VISIT
- With members of group or another person about the experience
- Determine possible next steps
- Inform others about what learned
- Write letter.
- Thank legislator for visit
- Summarize the visit, comment on what was said by all parties
- Identify follow-up steps committed by legislator and self
- Respond to points unaddressed in visit
- Reiterate issue, position, and recommendations
- Express intention to continue dialogue
- Itemize names, addresses, phone numbers, etc. of all participants