What Members of the Legislature Need From Advocates

Posted by The Arc of North Carolina

Sometimes getting your message across to a legislator can be confusing. Ever wondered if there was a simple way of knowing how to do this? Representative Jean Farmer-Butterfield, N. C. House of Representatives, understands and prepared some helpful tips to assist your advocacy on issues you find important and to clearly have them heard by your elected official.

1. Election of Legislators that represent their interest and concerns.

2. Demonstration of mutual respect. (no arguing or debating with legislators, always use their proper title)

3. Mutual accountability and good organization. (helps make all the stakeholders jobs easier- the legislator and yours)

4. Advocacy and education on issues important to you as individual and/or organizations.

5. Talking points and rationale on legislation and budget items that are or not important.

6. Do homework on the issues, define your message, establish and maintain a communication network with legislators and possibility legislative assistants.

7. Utilize social media and cultivate media relationships (i.e. TV, Radio, newspaper, websites, Facebook, action alerts, etc.) so you will know who to go to for what and when.

8. Be specific and crystal clear about what you are advocating for whether it is funding a bill, new policy or a change in policy.

9. Know the importance of accessing legislative assistance when legislators cannot be reached.

10. Meet with legislators in the community prior to session on your legislative priorities. Follow-up with visits to the legislature during session.

11. Never lie to a legislator to convince them to take your point of view or to support or not support a bill, budget item or provision in the budget.

12. Volunteer to work in their campaign and/or to make a donation to further build relationships.

13. Share items you feel are important for a legislator in your advocacy?

14. Always put on your point of view! A person or group of people with the specific concern or need affected is worth a thousand words.