Calling or meeting with your state representative and senator is easier than you think and is a great investment in the future of pro-animal legislation. Here are a few tips:
1. Don’t be intimidated:
State legislators especially are receptive to constituents. Remember – they work for you.
2. Be concise:
Your message should be short and direct. It is fine to express your personal opinion.
3. Use available resources:
Request position papers, fact sheets, or other documentation from animal protection groups. You don’t need to be an expert, but the more facts and arguments you have on your side, the better. Your legislators do not expect you to be an expert – that is what professional lobbyists are for.
4. Personalize your appeal:
Tell why and how you are concerned about an issue and how it affects you.
5. Establish a positive relationship with staff :
They are usually more accessible than your legislator and can have influence over how they vote.
6. Be honest:
If you don’t know the answer to something, admit it and try to get the information later. It gives you the opportunity to follow up to send them more information.
7. Identify your bill or issue clearly:
Whenever you get a chance to talk to elected officials, don’t just refer to your effort by the bill number, but add the subject, why you support the bill and whether you are asking for their support or opposition to the matter.
8. During the legislative session, keep updated on the bill’s status:
At certain times, action occurs with little notice, and you may quickly need to help generate calls and e-mails in support or opposition. Humane USA PA PAC and other animal groups publish alerts to keep you updated.
9. Try to maintain a postive relationship:
Maintain a good relationship with your legislators—today’s enemy may be tomorrow’s friend. They may be in office for decades. Threats and hostile remarks are not productive. Do not create any enemies – they can hurt all future bills.
10. Avoid party politics:
Animal protection is a bi-partisan issue.
11. Say thank you:
Everyone appreciates being thanked. Send a follow up thank you note. This also gives you an opportunity to send additional information.