LWVSPA Guide to Meeting with Legislators   

General guidance:  Timing is everything in meeting with legislators: schedule your first meeting well before the session opens and subsequent meetings just before critical committee hearings and votes.  Coordinate scheduling with your action group lead or the LWVSPA advocacy chair.

Meet with legislators who represent your legislative district (that’s who they listen to).  Bring along at least one other League member with whom you should prepare in advance, as discussed below. 

Be prepared:

  • know yourself:  be aware of personal biases; this will help you maintain objectivity by anticipating your own response in a given situation
  • know your organization: be fully aware of the League’s positions and their development as well as relationships it maintains with other organizations; bring a list of supporters  (e.g. statewide coalition members, local partners within the legislative district)
  • know your legislator: try to understand the basis for his/her positions (e.g. voting record on related legislation, party, committee assignments, tenure in legislature, and constituent pressures); start by looking at their website & info posted at https://www.myfloridahouse.gov and https://www.flsenate.gov
  • know your issue: know the status of legislation and refer to bill number when possible; identify brief and explicit points, why they’re important to you, and the people they represent; be prepared to respond to questions and concerns; don’t hesitate to admit lack of knowledge & be willing to pursue answers and report back
  • know your opposition: anticipate the opposition & answer arguments positively

At the meeting/phone call:

  • thank the legislator/staff for taking time to meet with you
  • introduce yourself as a voter in their district and a LWVSPA member; note LWV’s non-partisan stance, not endorsing candidates or parties but taking positions on public policy issues
  • ask about your legislator’s interests and concerns on your issue in order to understand their priorities and underlying interests; look for common ground
  • make a single, concrete ask that entails a verifiable action (e.g. voting against HBxxxx) and highlight a few facts that will influence his or her thinking; don’t be abstract: focus on specifics identified in LWVF legislative priorities and specific legislation currently before the legislature; don’t present a laundry list
  • get the legislator to be specific in their response
  • let your legislator know that we “have his/her back” and will support them in the face of opposition
  • thank him/her for their time and leave a one-page sheet with key points and your contact information; if you can’t answer some of their questions, follow-up within 2-3 days

Follow-up:

  • send a follow-up note of thanks to the legislator (and staff, as appropriate), reviewing points & providing additional info as appropriate; we can offer praise but not endorsement
  • as needed, ask others to contact the legislator to support our position

Compiled by the LWVSPA Gun Safety Working Group
Kate Lamb & Sharon Winters
January 2017