Talking to a Legislator Face to Face

by | April 4th, 2016
Photo from Maryland GovPics

Photo from Maryland GovPics

  1. Be polite to them even if you’ve disagreed with them in the past.  They’ll be more likely to be persuaded if they feel that you are being respectful of them as a fellow human being.
  2. Let them know you ARE their constituent.  This matters because most of them will be much more responsive to folks from their own districts. Find your two state legislators here!
  3. Thank them for their time and for something more specific if you can.  We’re here to win flies with honey instead of vinegar, right?  (Chances are, if you look on their legislator web page, you can find at least one thing they’ve done that you like.)
  4. Briefly tell them what is important to you and why.  Practice being specific, emotionally compelling, and brief. 
    • Example: Medicaid reimbursement rates have been cut, so my aunt’s doctor stopped seeing my aunt, who depends on Medicaid.  She is in a lot of pain and can’t easily find another doctor.  You have the option to pass a better budget this year that could increase provider rates.  We need a state budget that includes recurring revenues, and I’m here to ask you to reject any budget that doesn’t add those revenues. Oklahomans need to be able to take care of our disabled friends and family members.
  5. Make a specific request and take note of the answer.  Following the example above, you could ask, “Can I count on you to reject a bad budget that doesn’t include new revenues?” or “What recurring revenues are you encouraging your fellow legislators to consider?” and make note of what they say so you can follow up with them.
  6. Thank your legislator for their time and remind them of the answer they gave you and the specific request you made.
  7. Follow up with your legislator after your meeting.  IMPORTANT! Legislators know that most Oklahomans don’t pay close attention to what happens at the Capitol, so you may have to do some extra work to convince them that you plan to hold them accountable. Follow up with a hand-written note, an email, or a phone call thanking them again and reminding them of your specific request and the answer they gave you. Find your two state legislators here!