National Lobby Week (August 2016)

Completed
Monday, August 15, 2016 to Thursday, August 18, 2016

We’re fast approaching a major milepost in our ten-year plan to pass the We the People Amendment: 25 cosponsors by the end of 2016.

We’re nailing it! We currently have 21 co-sponsors!

Join us for the We the People Lobby Week conference call on July 26 to learn how you can help us secure at least 4 more co-sponsors during the We the People Lobby Week coming up August 15 - 19.

Lobbying is an effort made to influence the actions of elected officials. Your elected officials are in office to represent you, their constituent. It is their job to listen to your concerns and to take them into account when making decisions.

We will use our We the People Lobby Week to:

  • Educate our legislators about corporate constitutional rights and money in politics
  • Identify whether they are a supporter of Move to Amend, an opponent, or undecided
  • Move supporters to become champions, or undecided individuals to become supporters
  • Soften or neutralize our opponents

2016 Goal

This year we need to secure 25 House of Representatives Co-Sponsors of House Joint Resolution 48 (the We the People Amendment) and lay the groundwork to have the amendment introduced in the U.S. Senate in 2017.

Our goal is to organize 40 in-District Citizen Lobby Visits with House and Senate members during the 2016 August recess. 

Kickoff Conference Call

--> 2016 We the People Lobby Week Signup Form - click here to sign up to participate!

Pre-Meeting Preparation

Become acquainted with what you will be asking for. Check out these resources:

Practice telling your story. We encourage you to practice telling your story in advance to increase confidence for your meetings.

Learn more about your Senators and Representatives. It is helpful to familiarize yourself with your members’ priorities and views by visiting their websites at www.senate.gov or www.house.gov. Also check to see if they have co-sponsored any of the competing amendment resolutions.

Be prepared to meet with your legislator’s legislative assistant. Your legislator may not attend the meeting. Staff may be young, but they are instrumental in shaping the legislator’s views. It is not unusual for the legislator to defer to his/her staff for an opinion on your issue. It is important to demonstrate respect to everyone you encounter during your visit.

Bring contact information. A business card from work, or a 2 x 3.5 inch card you print yourself, should contain your name, address and email information. 

Plan to dress appropriately. Please wear clean and appropriate professional attire (suits, dress pants; shirts with ties; dresses; skirts and blouses; etc.) for your meetings with lawmakers. No jeans, sandals, flip flops or printed tee shirts. 

Schedule Your Meeting(s)

Scheduling of appointments should start about 2-3 weeks before Lobby Week. Note that many offices will not confirm a meeting until 1 week out. Your Representative(s) should be available for most of the month of August so if you are unable to schedule your meeting during our actual We the People Lobby Week (August 15-18) that is OK! Go ahead and schedule the meeting when you can anytime during the month of August.

Our suggestion is that you focus on your House members, to secure co-sponsorship of House Joint Resolution 48. However, if you would like to also meet with your Senator(s) to help identify potential lead sponsors for next year, that is encouraged too.

Appointments may either be made by emailing the legislator’s scheduling person, or by phone. Every office differs in their preferred scheduling process, so please check with them to determine which process to use. Be sure to be persistent if you don't get a response, and don't just rely on email alone!

Phone Script

“Hello, my name is [name] from Move to Amend. May I please speak to the in-District scheduler?” (Write down the scheduler’s name. Be sure to get the correct spelling.)

“I am a constituent of Representative / Senator [NAME] and I would like to schedule a meeting with Representative / Senator [NAME] and/or her/his Legislative staff person while [she/he] is in District for the August Recess. I'd like to discuss the We the People Amendment (currently House Joint Resolution 48) and the importance of addressing the problem of big money in elections and corporate influence over the political and legal process."

"May we do this on the phone, or would you prefer an email or fax?”

At this point, you may either continue, or take down the email address. Although you should make every effort to get a meeting with the legislator, many times you will be referred to the appropriate staff person, e.g., the one who handles legislative or government affairs issues.

If you are able to continue on the phone, let the scheduler know who is coming:

“At this time, the following people will be attending: [list names and affiliations].

We would like to schedule a meeting during the week of August 15-19 if possible.”

Note: You may have to contact the office several times before someone returns your call or confirms an appointment. Be persistent and proactive—you are calling as a voting constituent!

Sample Email

Dear [Name of Scheduler],

Volunteers with the national Move to Amend campaign would very much appreciate a meeting during the August Recess with [Senator]/[Representative] [Name] and/or [his]/[her] Legislative staff person to discuss the We the People Amendment (currently House Joint Resolution 48) and the importance of addressing the problem of big money in elections and corporate influence over the political and legal process. 

Among attendees will be [Insert names of participants from the Rep’s home state and their towns]. There may be others at the meeting as well, but I am unable to confirm the names at this time.

A meeting between during August 15-19 is ideal.

Thank you so much for your consideration of our request.

Cordially,

[Your name]

Meeting Tips

Visit as a group if possible. The leader should start and conclude the meeting. One group member must take notes and report back the details of each meeting. Make sure you assign this task in your group before you are at the visit!

The constituents are most important. The legislators’ primary concern is whether you can elect him or her into office. If you live in the district you are important. The spokesperson should begin the meeting by identifying himself/herself as a constituent and introducing all participants, and briefly identify your request early in case time runs short.

Cover the priority issue. Now is the time you’ve been waiting for! Tell your story, and explain why passing the We the People Amendment is important to you. Make your remarks brief and to the point. Encourage them to learn more and do more.

Stay on topic. Be careful: a little chit-chat is acceptable, but be sure to stay on topic and not be drawn into storytelling—you’ll never know where the time went! Be concise and stick to the issue at hand, but do not rush the conversation. Don’t make statements that assume that others share your political views and be respectful when talking about all political leaders.

Solicit the legislator’s views on this issue. Review your request and do some research on your legislator. Has your legislator taken the Pledge to Amend? Have they endorsed other amendment measures? If they have shown support for similar measures thank them appropriately and encourage them to sign on to the We the People Amendment. If there is disagreement, avoid arguing with your legislator or their staff. Listen to his/her perspective and then present your views. You will enhance your effectiveness if you can demonstrate a willingness to participate in a friendly exchange of ideas. Record the response of your legislator to facilitate follow-up.

Conclude your meeting. Make sure your legislator and/or staff has a copy of the briefing information and your primary contact information. Thank them for their time and offer to be a resource to them going forward.

Take a picture! Especially if you are a group, take your picture with your legislator or their staffer -- this is a historic day!

--> As soon as the meeting is over, please fill out the Online Reporting Form to let us know the results of the meeting. [coming soon!]

Meeting Followup

Thank Yous. Send a thank you letter to your Legislator or their staffer following the meeting. Thank the legislator and/or staff person for their time and reiterate your “ask” that they co-sponsor HJR 48. Put this letter in the mail as soon as you get home or mail it before you leave. [Example coming soon!]

Meeting Report Back Forms. The note taker should fill out the form ASAP after the meeting while the details are fresh in your mind.

Follow Up. One of the most important aspects of a lobby day is the follow up.

It will also be important to follow up a month or 6 weeks later if your legislator or their staff person did not give you a clear answer, or gave you a positive answer but then did not follow through with their commitment. Whether this is done by phone or email, or even another in person visit, the staffer and legislator will know you are serious if you follow up. Always be friendly and professional, and offer to provide additional information if it will help them to make a decision.

Lobby Packet

We recommend you put together a folder with the following printed materials to leave with the legislator or staffer (ideally both -- bring a couple copies in case you meet with both staff and the Representative): 

Resources

Citizen Lobbying Resources

Additional Resources

 

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