How to Make a Legislative Visit
Our elected officials represent us. One of the most effective advocacy actions we can do is a local legislative visit.
Here are some tips on how to plan a successful legislative visit. To schedule a training for your group or organization contact Sally Jo (412-456-1877 x 203).
Step One: Arranging the Visit
• Recruit one or two persons to go with you on the visit.
• Call the local office and ask when the elected official will be in the home office because you want to schedule a visit. Schedule the visit and tell the reason for your visit through the administrative assistant. (Examples: you’d like to talk about supporting medical assistance funding or for the budget to prioritize home and community-based services.) Ask: how much time do I have for my visit?
• One day before your scheduled visit, call and confirm the date and time.
Step Two: Roles and Responsibilities of the Visit Team
• Prepare! Know what you want to say and the points you want to make. Create clear, concise, talking points. There is nothing more powerful and effective than your personal story. Share it.
• Have a game plan. Know who will say what and make what point. Select someone to be the lead person for your visit. Assign one person to be the note-taker. Make sure this person has a notepad and two pens. During the visit, this person’s job is to take notes.
• Prepare yourself to take charge of the visit. Be ready for questions. Do some practice and role-playing visits.
Step Three: The Day of the Visit
• Gather as a team 30 minutes before your scheduled visit. Go over the talking points and your game plan. Make sure the note-taker has a notepad and two pens.
• Arrive at the legislator’s office 10 minutes early. Be certain to sign-in on the Visitor’s book and provide your name and address. (If there is no visitor’s book present, ask the administrative assistant for it so you can sign-in.)
• Take charge of the direction of the meeting. Don’t get caught up in legislator photo-ops or irrelevant stories. Keep to the schedule time of the meeting. It is a sign of respect and professionalism.
• Thank the legislator for their time. Be sure to also thank the administrative assistant. Once you are outside the building and have exhaled, go and celebrate by having coffee or dessert or lunch. You just did great advocacy work!
• Debrief on the visit. What did you hear? What did you observe? Is the legislator with you on this issue? Call or e-mail Sally Jo and let her know about the visit.
Step Four: The Day After the Visit
• Look in the mirror and say, “Who is that good-looking, awesome advocate who just did a legislative visit?”
• Write and send a “Thank You” to the elected official. Remind the legislator of what they said in the meeting. If the legislator promised to look into the issue or provide you with more information, remind them of that and hold them accountable.
• Share your experience with a larger group or committee.