Sponsored by California Watershed Network and California Watershed Coalition
2009 Watershed Rally Day in the Capital, April 15, 2009
Tips for Meeting Legislators
Arranging the Meeting…
- Go to http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/yourleg.html to find your Senator and Assembly Members. In the blank box, enter your zip code and press the “search” button. This will tell you who your legislators are by your zip code.
- To find your Legislator’s mailing address, fax/telephone number, and/or email address go to: http://www.senate.ca.gov (for you Senator’s information) and http://www.assembly.ca.gov (for your Assembly Member’s information).
- Call your Legislator’s office and ask to speak to the “scheduler” to make an appointment. Tell the scheduler that you will be participating in the Watershed Day at the Capitol on April 15th, and you would like to schedule a meeting with your Legislator. The scheduler may ask you to fax or email a meeting request.
- If your Legislator is not available, the scheduler will make an appointment with their chief of staff or a legislative staffer (very common).
- If you are having difficulty in obtaining an appointment or getting a response, please notify a CWN Board member who will assist you.
Preparing for the Meeting….
- Gather a small group, if possible, (three is optimum) to accompany you during the meeting. Bring different members of your organization, representing various stakeholders in the watershed. The more diversity in the group that meets with the Legislator, the better.
- Plan what you want to tell the Legislator. Remember that some Legislators / legislative staffers may not know what a watershed is or a watershed organization. Your presentation may include:
- a map of your watershed area in reference to the Legislator’s district
- what types of projects you have accomplished
- plans for future projects
- benefits of your work to the watershed and to the Legislator’s district
- ideas for building a working relationship between your organization and your legislator
- needs of the watershed community on a statewide level (talking points discussed on morning of April 15th)
- If in a group, divide up the tasks of who is the main spokesperson, and who will answer questions on specific topics. Also, assign someone to take notes and to write a follow-up letter.
- Think about the kinds of questions the legislators may ask and develop answers.
- Prepare a packet of information to leave with your Legislators.
During the Meeting…
- Be on time. Some Legislators and staffers may not be on time due to meetings or hearing. Be patient and flexible.
- Introduce yourself and everyone in your group, and identify your organization. Thank the Legislator for taking the time to meet with you. Make your presentation. Be concise. Emphasize the organization’s accomplishments, cooperation among its diverse members, and the benefits to the watershed and district, are things that the Legislator can be proud of.
- If possible, request a specific action from the Legislator. Some examples of actions include:
- Invite Legislator to tour a watershed project in his/her district
- Ask him/her to support funding initiatives for watersheds
- Ask legislator to call you when he/she has questions about watershed issues
- After making your presentation, let the Legislator respond. Have another member take notes so you can focus on the questions and comments from the Legislator.
- Answer the Legislator’s questions as best you can. Make a note of any questions you could not answer and explain that you will follow-up with answers.
- Remember to leave the Legislator a packet of information and always thank them for their time.
- Plan on spending 15-20 minutes in each of your Legislator meetings.
After the Meeting…
- Promptly follow up with a thank you letter and respond to any outstanding questions.
- Give the elected official a “stroke” by favorably mentioning the meeting and its content in your organization’s newsletter, at the next Board meeting, etc.
- Stay in touch with your Legislator. The meeting was the beginning of an ongoing relationship. Keep the legislator informed on your projects, events, and any concerns/issues that come up.