Legislative session just ended, so you should be planning for next session now.
Too often great policy ideas are left behind in the chaos of the legislative session and are discarded in committee, on the floor, or worse, at the very bottom of some staffer’s inbox. At DTC we’ve said it before, effective advocacy work must apply a consistent strategy that extends beyond legislative lobbying.
You need a tactical, energized plan to carry your priorities through session, interim, and implementation. We may only have a “part-time” legislature, but our elected officials are accountable to their constituents year round.
Whether you have identified a proposed policy you want to see enacted, or you would like to bring a new policy idea to a legislator, DTC wants to help you get, and keep, their attention. Here are three key tactics:
1. Start early and check in often. Your advocacy work is best started right now when the session has concluded and legislators are returning from their brief periods of “recovery.” Capturing their attention now allows you to build a relationship with your legislator over the coming months and apply social pressure when session is approaching. Additionally, if your legislator is coming off of campaign season, utilize the momentum and energy of the campaign to solidify yourself as a priority stakeholder. New members have to take up a policy platform – it could be yours.
2. Know your people. It is important to know the legislator you are lobbying, what committees they sit on, where their power is most useful, and who they can influence. But legislative staff is often overlooked as a source of influence and power. Find out who works for your legislator. Look them up on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter and use what you learn to pitch your policy ideas. The more you connect a bill to legislator priorities, the more they’re likely to move. You are a legislative salesman, so know your client.
3. Leverage their constituency. Legislators prioritize their own constituents first and foremost while non-constituents are immediately filtered out—especially when using form emails. When you work with a constituent group or leverage a constituent on your team, you will get more meetings, longer discussions, and yield greater influence. Once you have a legislative champion on your side, pivot your constituency targeting to other linchpins like committee chairs, caucus leaders, and desired co-sponsors for your bill. Don’t just utilize constituents for email campaigns but for coalition meetings, testifying, and educating members in the interim.
These three tactics will give you a solid start to maneuver the interim and session while maintaining momentum. The greater you plan, the greater results you will see from your advocacy and lobbying efforts. No matter how well-planned your campaign is, the legislative session will likely still throw you some curveballs that could derail your campaign if you aren’t consistently aligned with your strategy.
Don’t have a legislative advocacy strategy plan? We can help with that.