Meeting in-person with your elected officials is an elective way to talk about the issues impacting your business and profession and lay the groundwork for long-term change. Here are a few tips to help you have a productive meeting with your legislator.
DETERMINE WHO REPRESENTS YOU.
First things first… All North Carolinians are represented by United States Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis. The district in which you are registered to vote determines your representation in the United States House, North Carolina House, and North Carolina Senate. Visit www.ncleg.gov/rnr/representation to find out who represents you.
RESEARCH YOUR LEGISLATOR’S POSITION ON RELEVANT ISSUES.
On www.ncleg.gov, click on the “House” and “Senate” tabs to see member lists and learn more about your elected officials (and get their contact information). On what committees do they serve? What bills have they introduced? Have they voted in support of your issues? This key information will give you context to frame your conversation.
GET YOURSELF UP-TO-SPEED ON THE ISSUES.
If you plan to discuss a specific policy with a legislator, familiarize yourself with the bill and where it is in the process. On www.ncleg.gov, you can view bills scheduled to be discussed or voted upon in both the state House and Senate, as well as view full bill text and receive status updates.
Bonus tip! If you use Twitter, search the hashtags #ncpol and #ncga to get the latest updates and breaking news on North Carolina state politics.
PREPARE BRIEF TALKING POINTS.
Brevity is key—legislators’ time is limited between committee hearings, floor votes, and meetings with other constituents and interest groups. Have 2 or 3 key points prepared, write them out beforehand, and expect to have 10-15 minutes with your legislator. Remember that personal stories with specificity leave the most lasting impression.
Always send your legislator a thank-you note (handwritten is best) within a couple of days after your meeting. This simple act provides an opportunity to restate your message and maintain the rapport built during your conversation. The connection established will be helpful when you need to call your legislator on future issues.
Volunteer to meet with your legislator! We’ll be in touch when the time comes on how you can take action. www.ncacpa.org/advocacy/key-person/.