Face to face is the strongest way to tell your legislators and their staff about your priorities. Here are some tips for making your visit to the Capitol a meeting that will be remembered.
Who do you need to talk to?
You can find direct contact information for the office of your Senator and your Representative here. They were elected to represent you, so they and their staff should be most responsive to you. If you are interested in seeing bills get out of a certain committee, be heard for a vote on the floor, or get signed by the governor, you may also want to set appointments with committee chairs, Senate and House leadership, and the governor’s staff.
When should you visit?
Scheduling a visit is almost always best! Drop-in visits are a gamble, and large group visits are easy to ignore. Legislators are very busy people, but they represent you and most will either find a time to meet with you personally or give you some time with someone on their staff.
How should you conduct your visit?
You can use this checklist to help you prepare for your visit. Don’t let perfect get in the way of good. Use the check list if it is helpful but the most important part is that you do actually go talk to your legislators.
- I know who I am talking to when and where.
- I know at least one thing this legislator did that I appreciate.
- I know my top issue priorities, bill numbers, and talking points. (You can have written notes to remind you. This isn’t a public speech, so don’t stress out. Just make sure you know your top points.)
- I know ways to briefly relate my issue priorities to myself personally. (Your personal story is not only a good way to make your point. It is also information your legislator can use when they tell their colleagues why they are supporting your position, as well as a great way to help them remember you.)
- I’m ready to take notes on how my legislator responded. (You are gathering material to share in your thank you note for the visit and when you tell your fellow constituents how it went.)
- I am ready to very briefly remind my legislators about my top priorities before I leave, ask them if they will support my position, and take note of their answer. (Remember to make this personal. Eg: “can I count on you to vote for HB%&* so that my daughter Anna can be sure to have a good teacher next year)
- I am ready to thank them in order to cultivate this relationship. (Your legislator is more likely to listen to you, work with you, and agree to meet with you again if you are respectful. )
- I’m ready to send a follow up letter to thank my legislators and remind them about my priorities and what they said.
- I’ll be watching to see how they vote and to write to them again to express my gratitude and/or disappointment. (They will definitely hear from lobbyists and special interests about how they vote, so they really need to hear from you too.)
Legislators are just regular people with an important job to do. Hearing from you can help them do their job better. It is safe to expect they will be respectful and listen to you and if they aren’t you know who to campaign against in the next election.
For other ideas about how to have an impact check out our Seven Ways to Get Your Legislator’s Attention. Use our online form to sign up for a day to visit the capitol. Meet with one of our Capitol Visit Coaches or ask us if you have questions by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for taking the time to make a difference. Together we are making Oklahoma better!