NYASP Lobby Day
Before the meeting –
- Be prepared! Read through the talking points and the legislation that will be discussed during your visit. Plan out what you want to say during the visit.
- Find out something about the legislator that you can reference during your meeting (e.g. special interest or project that they are involved with in your area) or a common area of interest (e.g. mental health services for children, education issues). Read the biography and other items on your legislators’ website. You can identify your Assembly Member at http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/and Senator at http://www.nysenate.gov/senators.
- Know where the legislators’ offices are. Give yourself enough time for travel, getting through security, and navigating the elevators and hallways to arrive at least ten minutes before appointment time.
- Identify one “point person” who will initiate the conversation and provide packet to the legislator.
- Plan ahead for the possibility that your meeting may run late. If you have another appointment scheduled after your meeting, identify a portion of the group that will excuse themselves to arrive at the second meeting on time.
- Bring a business card to leave with the legislators.
General Tips during the meeting –
- Be on time, prepared, and polite.
- Each appointment is approximately 15 – 20 minutes.
- Start with a concise introduction, containing the following information:
- Who you are
- Where you work (mention specific school district, college/university, or agency)
- What you do as a school psychologist (tell a personal story about your work)
- What you need from your legislator
- A reference packet will be prepared for you to bring to the visit. Make sure the legislator receives this packet before you leave.
- Thank the legislator for their involvement in a specific initiative, project, or issue within your area or highlight a common area of interest.
- While the “point person” will initiate conversation, others can add their “stories” to illustrate the talking points. HOWEVER, do not be repetitive by re-stating the talking points. Share a new perspective. IN ADDITION, BE CONCISE! Long-winded explanations or stories are ineffective. “Read” the body language of the legislator or listen to their verbal cues to gauge their interest. Not everyone needs to talk.
- If the legislator indicates that they have another meeting or needs to leave, end the conversation. Do not try to prolong the meeting to “make your point.” Thank them and tell them that you will follow-up for more discussion.
- Do not attack the legislator for his/her record on your issue(s), and do not disparage government or politics.
- Do not use technical terms or acronyms, unless you are certain that your legislator will understand them.
- Do not complain. This is a NO WHINING ZONE! You are there to “inform” the legislator about the issues and how they impact children and families in their districts.
- If you do not know the answer to a question, say you will find out and get back to him/her – and follow through.
- Before you leave, ask how you can be of help to him/her.
- Thank him/her for their time. Ask for a business card of the legislator and other key staff who may be in attendance. Don’t forget to leave your business card.
- If the meeting is running late, the pre-arranged group should politely excuse themselves to go to the second meeting while the rest of the group continues the conversation.
After the visit -
- Follow up with a thank you note, along with any information that you promised during the visit.
- Keep in touch during legislative session – contact your legislator on issues of interest to you, and remind him/her of your visit.