Never Too Early
Don't wait to get involved with your legislators.
During the campaign season:
Meet candidates and ask questions about your issues.
Assist candidates in developing a campaign platform
Volunteer to stuff envelopes, make telephone calls and give rides to polls.
Once they are elected:
Schedule a meeting to review the legislator's goals for the next session.
Develop a relationship with his/her legislative assistant.
Become a source for accurate information about your issue
Get to know your legislator
As a citizen, you are free to get to know and communicate with your legislators. Although Florida law requires that you must be a registered lobbyist in order to attempt to influence legislation, there are no prohibitions against providing information.
Here are some guidelines for getting to know your legislator:
Understand your legislator's viewpoint
"All politics is local." This quote by former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Tip O'Neil means that legislators pay first allegiance to their districts and to their reelection. Effective grassroots contact is critical.
Your legislator wants to do the right thing. Each of us wants to do a good job, even elected officials.
Your legislator wants to get reelected. Most legislators are constantly concerned with what they have to do to keep their position or move ahead.
Your legislator wants to be responsive. Legislators are in the business of pleasing people and want to accommodate you - but not at any cost. Other considerations may prevent him/her from doing so.
Your legislator may know nothing about your issue. Unless your legislator is a member of a committee having jurisdiction over your issue, he/she may know little or nothing about it. Educating your legislator is imperative.
Your legislator is beset by conflicting pressures. Reduce taxes, but don't cut spending. Cut spending, but not our program. Tax the other guy, but not me and so on. You can provide key information on why your issue or program is necessary and cost effective.
Your legislator wants to know how legislation affects the local district. How does a bill impact local constituencies, good or bad?
Your legislator finds it hard to vote against a friend but easy to vote against someone he/she doesn't know. Votes in the legislature are often about taking money from one program or service and giving it to another. Unless your legislator knows the impact that your issue has on his/her district, it is easy to accept the argument that a cut can be made.
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