It's August Recess - Go Meet with Your Legislators!

HandskakningWhile the Senate chose to skip its usual August recess this year, the House is at home with its constituents - you. Why not take the time to meet with your legislators and tell them what you are thinking about?

If you're not sure how to go about setting up a meeting (or what to do once you're there), check out our information below.

  • Decide what you want to meet about: There's so many issues to discuss right now - healthcareDACA, domestic violence and the Violence Against Women Act, paid family leave and the FAMILY Act, payday lending.... Think about what matters to you, and do a little research to learn more until you feel comfortable talking about it.
  • Set up the meeting: Prosperity Now put together a great tool for setting up recess meetings, including a sample email and information on how to contact the scheduler in your legislator's office. 
    • If you're uncomfortable with this format, you can make it simple - find your member of Congress here, and then ask to speak with the scheduler to set up a meeting. Here's a sample script: "Hi, my name is _________, and I'd like to speak to the scheduler about setting up a meeting with Rep. _______ during the August recess. I'm very interested in talking to the representative about __________.
    • In most cases, you will need to go to the legislator's office. You may end up meeting with staff instead of the legislator, but that's ok - the staff will pass your message on.
    • PS - want to meet with state legislators too? Great! Google your state legislature to find out who your representatives are and set up an appointment by calling their district offices.
  • Prepare for the meeting: Whatever your topic, spend a few hours preparing what you want to talk about. Take some notes and write down some of the points that you want to make. You should also spend some time thinking through the questions that you might be asked and how you would respond.
    • For bonus points, create fact sheets or print materials from organizations that support your talking points.
    • In addition to preparing your topic, spend some time researching your legislator. Find out how they voted on your issue in the past, what they've said about the issue, and what their background is. You might find something you have in common with the legislator (like going to the same high school) that you can bring up at the meeting.
  • Go to the meeting: Show up a few minutes early, but be prepared to wait if the previous meeting is running long. Also, be prepared for your meeting to be cut short if something else comes up. Have a very short version of your talking points ready in case the legislator has to run out. Once the meeting starts:
    • Be as natural as possible. Remember, the legislator (or their staff) wants to know how constituents feel about the issues. You're helping them do their job better by sharing your thoughts and experiences.
    • Ask questions: Find out where they stand on your issue, but also where they stand on other topics. This is a great time to learn more about why they've chosen to serve their country as a legislator or as staff.
    • Don't worry if you don't know (or don't remember) something: Some of the best advice I've ever gotten is that it's always okay to follow up. If someone asks you a question that you can't answer, say something like: "That's a really good question. Let me check on that and get back to you." Then, of course, make sure you do it!
  • Follow up after the meeting: When you get home, send a quick email to the legislator or to staff thanking them for their time and following up on your talking points. This is a good time to answer any questions that you couldn't answer in the meeting or to share new information.
    • If you used information from other sources to prepare for the meeting, you can follow up with those organizations too. Nothing will make their day more than getting an email saying "I met with Rep. ___________ to talk about _________ and shared your materials. Here's what I learned!"
  • Stay in touch: Follow up with the legislator periodically as the issue develops to make sure they know where you stand.
Let us know if these tips help, and if there is more information we can provide!


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