13 steps to working with your legislators to help animals
1. Don't be intimidated by the thought of approaching elected officials
State legislators especially are receptive to constituent comments.
2. Be concise
Your message should be short and direct. It is fine to express your personal opinion.
3. Use all available resources
Request position papers, fact sheets, or other documentation from animal protection groups such as The HSUS. You don't need to be an expert, but the more facts and arguments you have on your side, the better.
4. Personalize your appeal
Tell how you are concerned about an issue and how it affects you, your family, and your community.
5. Cultivate legislative staff
Establish a positive relationship with staff persons. They are usually more accessible and can have tremendous influence over an issue.
6. Be honest
If you don't know the answer to something, admit it and try to get the information later. Also, when working with legislators who sponsor your bill, be sure to be up front about any potential problem areas.
7. Research your legislators
Ask around, talk to others who have worked for legislative change—on any issue—and ask their advice on which legislators are most effective or which committees are most likely to approve of your bill.
8. Identify your bill or issue clearly
Whenever you get a chance to lobby elected officials, don't just refer to your effort by the bill number. And always make it clear whether you are asking for their support or opposition to the matter.
9. During the legislative session, constantly check your bill's status
Most legislative entities have a bill status information office. At certain times, action occurs quickly and with little notice.
10. Keep things friendly
Maintain a positive relationship with all legislators—they may be in this office or a higher one for decades. Threats and hostile or sarcastic remarks are not productive. Do not create any enemies.
11. Avoid party politics
Animals have friends on both sides of the aisle.
12. Be flexible
Sometimes compromise is a must. Support legislative strategies that may save an otherwise doomed bill: adoption of sunset provisions, grandfathering clauses, and placing provisions into regulations instead of statute.
13. Say thank you
Thank everyone and let your members know how helpful key legislators were in your success.