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Home > News > How to ... > How to arrange a meeting with your lawmaker

How to arrange a meeting with your lawmaker


Posted: February 17th, 2009 @ 9:57pm


Most legislators are eager to meet with their constituents. Your opinions are valuable to your lawmakers, and your meeting is likely to be very influential. Keep in mind that you don't have to be and expert to get you point across. The message you will bring to this meeting is that of an environmentally concerned citizen. Lawmakers at any level of government like to use recess periods in their districts to hear from their constituents, and nothing impresses members of Congress quite as much as someone from back home willing to make a personal visit to their Washington, D.C. office.


 
TO REQUEST A PRIVATE MEETING WITH YOUR SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVES

Call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121 for your lawmaker's Washington, D.C. phone number. You can find their district office number in your local telephone book;
  • Ask to speak with the appointments secretary or scheduler;
  • Introduce yourself as a constituent, stating where you live;
  • Tell the appointments secretary which issue you would like to discuss with your lawmaker;
  • Request a 30 minute meeting with your legislator (you may be given a shorter appointment, but any time is better than none). While it is best to meet directly with your legislator, if he or she is unavailable, you can schedule an appointment with the legislative aide responsible for environmental issues.

 
BEFORE THE APPOINTMENT

It's a good idea to send a follow-up letter or fax confirming your appointment. Remember to include your name, address and daytime phone number.

If possible, assemble a group of like-minded individuals or groups, (preferably one who are among the lawmaker's supporters), to accompany you; meet with your coalition ahead of time to agree and determine:
  1. What your message should be
  2. Sspokesperson or lead speaker
  3. Different people to answer specific questions
  4. A note taker
  5. A follow-up letter writer
  6. Appropriate fact sheets and other material to leave the lawmaker

 
DURING THE APPOINTMENT
  • Keep message simple to make sure your lawmaker understands your position and why
  • Make sure your lawmaker's questions are answered

 
AFTER THE APPOINTMENT
  • Write a follow up thank you letter, signed by all the interested groups - even the ones who could not attend the meeting
  • Write a letter to the editor about the meeting, or otherwise publicize your event in a community newsletter
  • It is always important to let your organization's lobbyists know what your lawmaker had to say




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