Never Too Early
Don't wait to get involved with your legislators.

During the campaign season:
Red Bullet Meet candidates and ask questions about your issues.
Red Bullet Assist candidates in developing a campaign platform
Red Bullet Volunteer to stuff envelopes, make telephone calls and give rides to polls.

Once they are elected:
Red Bullet Schedule a meeting to review the legislator's goals for the next session.
Red Bullet Develop a relationship with his/her legislative assistant.
Red Bullet Become a source for accurate information about your issue
Get to know your legislator
   As a citizen, you are free to get to know and communicate with your legislators. Although Florida law requires that you must be a registered lobbyist in order to attempt to influence legislation, there are no prohibitions against providing information.
   Here are some guidelines for getting to know your legislator:
  • Call their offices and speak to their legislative assistants. What were their major issues and legislation this past session? On which committees do they serve? Even if they do not serve on committees affecting your issue, they respond to constituent requests on a variety of issues. Ask about town meetings, legislative caucus meetings or other forums during which the legislators will develop their platforms. Offer your assistance and input.
  • Invite your local legislator to any open house, groundbreaking ceremony, celebration, or public meeting. Ask them to address your organization or group. If the legislator cannot attend, invite his/her legislative assistant.
  • Include your local legislator on your mailing list. Send legislators your newsletter or other material about your issue.
  • Clip newspaper and magazine articles that address your issue. Legislators and legislative assistants are always looking for new information to use in speeches and other appearances.
  • Send them a fact sheet on your program or issue. Offer your assistance on any requests for information or complaints they have received about your issue.
  • If legislators are unable to visit your program, schedule an appointment to meet with them at their district offices. Prepare a brochure or short fact sheet to leave behind. Invite them to visit your program or facility. Always send a thank you note.
  • Legislative delegations schedule delegation meetings throughout the year. Find out when these will be and try to get on the agenda. Do not use this forum only as a means of complaining. Use it as an opportunity to educate them about your issue and the benefits your program or organization brings to the community. Establish an ongoing relationship with legislative assistants. Provide them with information about your services, programs or facilities. Become a resource.

Understand your legislator's viewpoint
   "All politics is local." This quote by former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Tip O'Neil means that legislators pay first allegiance to their districts and to their reelection. Effective grassroots contact is critical.
   Your legislator wants to do the right thing. Each of us wants to do a good job, even elected officials.
   Your legislator wants to get reelected. Most legislators are constantly concerned with what they have to do to keep their position or move ahead.
   Your legislator wants to be responsive. Legislators are in the business of pleasing people and want to accommodate you - but not at any cost. Other considerations may prevent him/her from doing so.
   Your legislator may know nothing about your issue. Unless your legislator is a member of a committee having jurisdiction over your issue, he/she may know little or nothing about it. Educating your legislator is imperative.
   Your legislator is beset by conflicting pressures. Reduce taxes, but don't cut spending. Cut spending, but not our program. Tax the other guy, but not me and so on. You can provide key information on why your issue or program is necessary and cost effective.
   Your legislator wants to know how legislation affects the local district. How does a bill impact local constituencies, good or bad?
   Your legislator finds it hard to vote against a friend but easy to vote against someone he/she doesn't know. Votes in the legislature are often about taking money from one program or service and giving it to another. Unless your legislator knows the impact that your issue has on his/her district, it is easy to accept the argument that a cut can be made.

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