Nine Tips for a Successful Legislative Visit:
Make an appointment in advance.
Do not just show up!
Fax your written meeting request to the meeting scheduler and follow up with a phone call.
Meet with the legislator or his/her representative. Do this in Sacramento or locally.
Know your legislator’s record.
Information on your Legislator’s sponsorship of bills and voting record can be found on-line.
Valuable personal information can be found on his or her home page. Take it with you so that you know what they are interested in.
Meet face-to-face with everyone on your team who is going to meet with your Legislator to determine who will cover which points and who is going to “chair” the meeting to keep it focused.
Present the Legislator with a certificate of appreciation.
Use information gathered from researching your Legislator’s record to select an action pertinent to your local Drug Court efforts as a basis for your certificate.
Be punctual and positive.
Be on time and thank the staff person for his or her time.
Compliment the Legislator for a vote or action you appreciate.
This allows you to build rapport with staff, a key component of a long-term relationship.
Focus the meeting.
Briefly introduce the individuals of the group, the organizations you represent and the topic you wish to discuss.
It is important to talk about only one issue and to stay on this topic.
Have your local “fact sheet” on hand. Leave it with the staff person with whom you are meeting.
Listen and gather information.
Ask for your Legislator’s view on the topic of a collaborative court-related matter.
Be both patient and passionate.
Remain polite no matter what response you receive.
Make a specific request:
Provide brief points why your Legislator should support act on behalf of collaborative courts. Example: maintaining funding at its current level:
“Keep drug court funding at its current level. A cut to Drug court funding will cost the State more.”
Stress that we are honored to continue to save California money.
Avoid long, philosophical debates.
Follow up within two weeks.
If you cannot answer a specific question, tell the staff person (or Legislator) that you will get back to them right away.
If the staff person does not know the Legislator’s position on Drug Court funding, ask for follow-up correspondence.
Remember to leave your “Fact Sheet” with the staff person.
Express your thanks.
At the end of the meeting, thank the staff person for his/her time.
Send a thank you note to the staff person after your visit.
Repeat the “ask” you presented during your meeting in this note.