1. Identify your State Representative and Senator.
2. Request a meeting. Call their office to request to meet with your legislator. You can either ask to meet about animal cruelty bills or refer to a specific bill number. Legislators are responsive to requests from small groups of their constituents who would like to meet together also, so feel free to take a friend or group if you don’t want to go by yourself.
3. Prepare. You will have limited time—maybe only 15 minutes—so it is important to be prepared. Review the fact sheets about bills you are talking about, and print to take with you and leave with your legislator. Remember that they do not expect you to be an expert on the issue and if you can’t answer a question, let them know you will follow up with them.
4. Be prompt. Arrive early for your appointment. Legislators’ schedules are challenging—expect last minute changes and be respectful of his or her time. Try to understand if the legislator asks you to meet with staff; legislative staff often have specific policy expertise and will also deliver your message to the legislator.
5. Be Professional and friendly. Tell your story to your legislator. How has this issue affected you personally, and why you believe your legislator should support the bill. Legislators appreciate constituents who are courteous; thank the legislator for his or her time and consideration. 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. Follow up.
6. Be sure to send a thank you letter to your legislator. Use it as an opportunity to briefly recap what was discussed and reiterate any follow up items. Consider this meeting a first step in a continuing relationship and continue to communicate with them. Don’t give up: follow up and stay in touch.
Remember – they work for you! Good luck and have fun all while giving animals a voice in Harrisburg!