Small group meetings with you and your legislators

by | February 5th, 2016

 

Photo by George Miller

Photo by George Miller

It is time for you and your fellow constituents to have face to face meetings with your state legislators and their legislative assistants.

You may feel a little nervous but remember, the legislators need our help to get this right and TOK has some step by step instructions to help you have a successful meetings.

Small group meeting with you and your legislators:

  • Legislators prefer to meet with their own constituents.  Use our Find Your Legislators tool to find yours.
  • Find a buddy or two in each of your districts who is interested in joining you for meeting.  This helps boost your courage, makes good use of the legislator’s time, and it is often more fun to go as a team.  Checking in with your fellow TOK Chapter members in the TOK Slack Channels is a great way to find some legislator meeting buddies.
  • Designate a member of the group to contact the legislative assistant on behalf of your team. 
  • The member contacting your legislator should do the following:
    • Look up the name and number of your legislators office.
    • Call to introduce yourself and ask for a meeting with your legislator.
      • e.g: “Hello may I please speak with Gracie Monson? Ms. Monson, my name is Shay White and I am a constituent of Senator Kevin Matthews. I and a couple of my fellow constituents would like to set up a meeting with Senator Matthews in the next couple of weeks to discuss his priorities for the session and a few of our concerns. Does he have time available in the district or would we need to come to the Capitol to meet with him? Could you give me a couple of options for times so I can check back in with my fellow constituents to make sure they can join us? Thank you for your time and I look forward to meeting you and the Senator in person soon.”
    • Next the contacting member will quickly check back in with the other constituents on her team in her district. Confirm a time that works and get back with Ms. Monson ASAP. Schedules fill up quickly so it is good to be prompt and leave little time between the initial request and confirmation.
  • Once the date, time, and location is set, you and your fellow district members should discuss what you plan to say to your Senator or House Representative and what questions you plan to ask. You can sort this out in person or on Slack. Since there will be several of you, the legislator is likely to give your group a little more time, but remember that they are very busy and being brief but memorable is best. Perhaps you’d like to have one person open the discussion and then let each member introduce themselves briefly.
    • Eg: “Senator Matthews thank you so much for meeting with us today. As your constituents, we are very grateful for your recent pledge to work on improving education and increasing training for some members of law enforcement as well as private security personnel. We look forward to seeing your solutions with regard to those issues. We are here today to talk to you about other areas of concern. If I may, I’d like to introduce myself and let each of my fellow constituents briefly introduce themselves before we ask you some questions and learn more about your priorities this session.”
    • “My name is Shay White and I’m an alumnus of the University of Oklahoma and Oral Roberts University. As a citizen of Oklahoma and as a mental health professional, I am alarmed by State’s budget crisis. As you know, Oklahoma has one of the highest rates of mental illness and addiction in the entire country. The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services is facing a $20 million cut as a result of the budget shortfall on top of other cuts in recent years. I am responsible for over 75 patients with various mental health and substance abuse issues. I already do not have adequate resources and have to turn away patients knowing that the stress of not getting the services they need may lead them to self-medicate, experience more trauma and potentially harm themselves, or harm others. With the looming budget cuts I know the situation will likely get much worse and that is why I’m here today.”
    • “Senator Matthews my name is Tyler Parette…(Tyler’s introduction)… and that is why I’m here today”
    • “My name is EJ Rossman…(EJ’s introduction)… and that is why I’m here today.”
  • After introductions one of your group members can ask “Senator, what options do you plan to consider to fill the budget shortfall other that more cuts to services and more use of one time money like the rainy day fund?”
  • Give your legislator time to answer, take note of their answers, ask follow up questions to see if they know about the reasonable options we have suggested on okpolicy.org
    • Repeal the Income tax cuts
    • Adopt Combine Corp. reporting
    • Pass an Amazon law for On-line sales tax collection
  • Before your time is up ask them if you can count on him/her to support the revenue solutions you have proposed and take note of their answer.
  • Thank your legislator for their time and let him/her know you look forward to following up with and seeing them again soon.
  • After your meeting with the legislator, circle up with your team to compare notes on how it went. Give each other honest and kind feedback about how each of you did in the meeting and immediately write thank you notes from each one of you to your legislator. The notes should be as specific as possible in thanking the legislator for their time and for anything they suggested or agreed to do that you support. You can also take that opportunity to remind them of your concerns and hopes and that you’ll be in touch again soon.

Pro-tip: If there are a lot of people in your district group you can use https://doodle.com/ to pick several dates and share them. It is fast, easy, and free!

If you are not a member of a Together Oklahoma Chapter and you would like to join or if you would like to be a founding member of a chapter in your area please follow this link to fill out our brief membership form and we’ll be in touch soon.