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Communicating with your state legislators


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Communicating with your state legislators

  1. 1. YMCA of the USA Government Relations and Policy Communicating With Your State Legislators A Presentation for CVOs, CEOs and Senior Association 1
  2. 2. YMCA of the USA Government Relations and PolicyWe build strong kids, strong families, and strong communities. 2
  3. 3. YMCA of the USA Government Relations and PolicyWe build strong kids, strong families, and strong communities. 3
  4. 4. Founded in London, England on June 6, 1844. Established in the United States on December 29, 1851 in Boston. Currently in every State in the Union. The largest child care provider in the Nation. 561,909 Volunteers. 509,022 Program Staff. 51,987 Board Members. 2617 Associations in the US. Source:YMCA of the USA, Feb. 2007 4
  5. 5. YMCA of the USA Government Relations and Policy Voluneers Program2007 YMCA Participants at a Board Glance 51,987, 5% 509,022 561,909 , 45% , 50% Source: YMCA of the USA, February 2007 5
  6. 6. The United States of America:50 States = 50 State Senates + 49 State Assemblies 6
  7. 7. State Legislators at A Glance• According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, as of the 2006 session there were 7318 state legislators in the United States.• More statistical data: – 3941 Democrats – 3310 Republicans – 67 Independents• Average age is 53. 7
  8. 8. Legislators by Political Party (Source: National Conference of State Legislatures 2006) 67 3310 Independ Democrat 3941 Republican 8
  9. 9. State Legislative Data (SOURCE: National Conference of State Legislatures 2006)• In 37 States both houses are controlled by same party – 22 Democrats – 15 Republicans• In 1 State, the unicameral legislature is nonpartisan• Of 50 Senates – 25 controlled by Democrats – 22 controlled by Republicans – 2 tied between Democrats and Republicans – 1 is nonpartisan• Of 49 House of Representatives/Delegates/Assemblies – 29 controlled by Democrats – 20 controlled by Republicans 9
  10. 10. Legislative Control by Party (SOURCE: National Conference of State Legislatures 2006) 115 Nonpartisan Democrat Republican 22 10
  11. 11. State Senates by Party Affiliation (SOURCE: National Conference of State Legislatures 2006) 2 1 Nonpartisan Democrat22 Republican 25 Tied 11
  12. 12. House of Representatives/Delegates Control by Party Affiliation (SOURCE: National Conference of State Legislatures 2006) 20 Democrat 29 Republican 12
  13. 13. Methods Used to Communicate• Person to person.• Telephone calls/trees/banks.• Letter individual/campaigns/preprinted.• Email.• Internet.• Public Forums.• Accidental. 13
  14. 14. Person to Person• Increasingly rare.• May be planned or accidental.• If planned (appointment) be prepared to wait. Once in a meeting be as brief as possible while still staying on task.• The key elements are follow up (in writing and email) and the prospect of future meetings. 14
  15. 15. Telephone Contacts• With the Legislator vs. Staff.• Remember to clearly state your name and contact information for follow up.• Remember to get the name/title of the staffer with along with date & time.• Telephone “trees” are when one person calls and then contacts two other people to also call on the subject and then the calls expand proportionately. 15
  16. 16. Telephone Contacts, cont.• Telephone “banks” like minded people assembled at a “bank” of telephones, usually with a prepared text who call the same number i.e., legislator or a pre- selected list of people to contact and ask them to contact a legislator in favor or against a proposal. 16
  17. 17. Remember: They Work For You! 17
  18. 18. Letter Contacts• Still, in 2007, the method with the most impact. It represents “real” effort to communicate.• Security concerns may impact the deliverability of letters (post 9/11/01).• With sufficient volume, easy to overwhelm the recipient into believing that public opinion is tilted one way or another (even if it isn’t). 18
  19. 19. Letter Contacts, cont.• Letter “campaigns” provide for personalized letters written by individuals who are provided with “talking points” to be included in the letter to the legislator. They require more coordination/education so that the message is clear and consistent.• Preprinted letters usually provide for the inclusion of sender’s name and address. Otherwise, they convey the same message. Least effective of the 3 types mentioned. 19
  20. 20. Not satisfied: Remembersomething called elections? 20
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  22. 22. 100 Senators. 435 Representatives.5 Delegates. All are elected by the people. 22
  23. 23. Email Contact• Increasingly email is replacing traditional ink and paper or snail mail as the mode of communication.• Although there is a greater chance that your email may not be read by the legislator (spam filters, staff, technology) it is vastly superior because it offers instant communication with hard copy capabilities. 23
  24. 24. Internet Contact• Many websites have contact pages that can be filled out and then sent electronically.• While you have the instant ability to contact, the negatives remain…specifically whether or not the legislator will personally see your comment. 24
  25. 25. Holding Public Office is aPrivilege, Not a Hereditary Right! We settled that one in 1776. Period. 25
  26. 26. Holding Public Office is theirPrivilege, Not their Hereditary Right! We still settled that one in 1776. Period. Don’t undo what was paid for with the blood of heroes. 26
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  28. 28. Public Forum Contact• This occurs when you attend a public forum in person where the legislator is a participant.• You either ask a question, thereby becoming part of the forum itself or else see the legislator before, during or after the event and get “their ear.”• Remember to follow up and get their card or the staffer’s card who may be with them. 28
  29. 29. Accidental Contact• Accidents do happen…they don’t live in isolation• Church• Shopping• Restaurants• Daily Life• Community events (sports, theater) 29
  30. 30. Points to Remember• They (Public Servants) work for you.• Be brief.• Be polite or at least civil.• Be precise in what you want of them.• Give them a timeline/deadline when it is needed.• Provide them with multiple methods of contacting you (mail, email, telephone). 30
  31. 31. “Caring, honesty, respect and responsibility.” More than our core charactervalues. They are the essence of the contract between our elected officialsand the American people. To uphold these, safeguards the Republic for herand the future. 31
  32. 32. YMCA of the USA Government Relations and PolicyWe build strong kids, strong families, and strong communities. Thank you for attending this presentation. 32