Advice from Legislative Aides

During the legislative session, a lawmaker’s schedule is very full…usually starting early in the morning and ending late each day. They’re meeting with constituents and colleagues, tracking bills they’ve sponsored, preparing talking points and reviewing legislation they’ll hear in committees.

For these reasons (and others), they don’t have time to read and research every issue. In our last post, we shared how you can become a valuable resource and keep them informed during session. But how do you ensure success when it’s time to have a face-to-face meeting?

Below are some tips directly from veteran Legislative Aides:

  • Respect their time, especially if you’re meeting them in Tallahassee.
  • Don’t be late…EVER! With up to twenty meetings each day, they don’t have time to wait on you.
  • If you’re planning to discuss specific legislation, always know the bill number, status and sponsor.
  • Provide a very brief summary of what the legislation does/doesn’t do.
  • Tell your story and the local impact of the legislation. Be as specific as possible.
  • NEVER exaggerate and NEVER lie!
  • If you’re asking for your legislator’s support of a program or project and there is a fiscal impact, provide an explanation of how you’re planning to pay for it.
  • NEVER dismiss the legislator’s questions or concerns as trivial. They’re asking or expressing them for a reason.
  • NEVER speak ill of another member. They could be very good friends.
  • Make every effort to talk about something they can support, not just oppose. Lawmakers appreciate being able to support their colleagues.
  • If talking about a controversial issue, be prepared share why and:
    • If you’ve spoken to other legislators and what if any concerns the have.
    • What are the concerns of the public?
  • Legislators DON’T like surprises! If someone is opposed to your position on an issue, be prepared to share who and why.

Following this advice can help you have successful and productive meetings..even when you only have a few minutes to share your message.

Your Partner in Advocacy…Kathy