This is also more difficult one, but something every citizen should do! You can visit them to discuss a specific topic that you have expertise in or are passionate about. Or you can target a specific piece of legislation that they are a sponsor or co-sponsor of (or that they should be). The key about these visits is that you don’t need to be an expert in anything to go. Sharing your personal story on why this issue is important and why the legislator should support it or not is very meaningful. Or you can join a advocacy or lobby day with another organization if you’re not ready to break out on your own. The American Heart Association lobby day in Annapolis is February 2 (sign up here).
- Decide on your issue and who your target legislator is. You should be a constituent of theirs. Do they work on a particular issue that you’re interested in? Are they on a committee that is reviewing legislation that is important to you and you want them to vote a certain way?
- Call their office and set up an appointment with the scheduler. It is likely that you will meet with a staffer if you’re aiming for a Congressperson or Senator. State and local legislators may meet with you in person unless they are in session. Staffers are great as they are doing a ton of the work and research. Make sure you ask to meet with the staffer who works on your issue (environment, health, transportation, etc).
- Prepare and practice your main points and remarks. Bring notes with you or bring materials in a folder that you think the legislator and their staff will find useful about the issue. Bring 2-3 copies. Make sure your information is accurate, but make it meaningful!
- If you’re asked a question, answer the best you can. It’s totally ok to say, “I don’t know, but I will find out and get back to you.”