Print Page   |   Contact Us   |   Sign In   |   Register
Contacting Your Legislator
Share |

 

Contacting Your Legislator

by Rick Russell, Chair

AAERT Government Relations Committee


In a prior article, I had discussed how to monitor legislation at the state and federal level that may impact your livelihood as a court reporter and/or transcriber. If you become aware of a bill, it is important for you to make your voice heard by reaching out to your legislators and urging them to support your position on the issue.

Here is a list of several websites that provide free resources for finding and tracking bills in your state legislature and in the U.S. Congress.

NATIONAL LEVEL – There are several good sites for keeping tabs on the U.S. Congress, including:

Govtrack - Provides a lot of information on the members of Congress. You can enter your address to find your senators and representatives; voting records; what’s going on with various committees; et cetera. Click “Bills & Resolution” at the top of the home page and use the “Track By Keyword Search” to search for bills related to our industry.

CONGRESS.GOV - Another site that allows you to search current legislation for bills that relate to the court reporting industry.

STATE LEVEL – Start with the official site for your state legislature. These sites will provide basic information on the legislative process, members, session dates, et cetera, and most will have a search feature to assist you in finding bills related to court reporting. In addition, here is a site to cover all the states:

StateScape - While this site does offer subscription-based tracking, there is a lot of very good free information available. Included are links to all the state legislatures, session schedules, a primer on the legislative process in each state, information on the budget process, which tends to drive a lot of the other issues, and even links to the major newspapers in each state. Click “Resources” at the top of the home page to be taken to the “BillFinder.”

The sooner in the legislative process you identify a bill, the better your position to take action. Your first task should be to alert the AAERT Government Relations Committee to assist you. The next step will be reaching out to your legislators to support your position.

Before you make any contact with the legislators, please be sure that you are fully informed about the bill itself and also about the legislator you are contacting. What is his or her position on the bill? What political party are they? What is their past voting history?

When you are ready, you have several methods of contact available to you. You should employ as many of them as you can. For all methods of contact, it is important to be concise, clear, and polite.

CALL THEM

This may be the most effective means of getting your legislators attention. Call their office and tell them who you are and that you are a constituent. Give them the bill number you are calling about. Tell them that you support/oppose the bill and ask for the staffer who handles this issue. If the staffer is not available, leave a message or voicemail and be sure to follow up if you have not heard back within two business days. Be sure to get the name and contact information of the appropriate staffer.

If you do get the staffer on the phone, identify yourself again and tell them the bill number about which you are calling. Then give a brief description of the bill and a brief summary of why you support/oppose the bill.

Request that they ask the legislator to take action to support your position and to follow up with you in response to this call. Again, be sure to get their contact information and offer to send additional information on the issue via email/fax.

WRITE TO THEM

Although email is the preferred method of professional communication these days, writing a letter on letterhead, if you have one, will carry more weight and make a greater impact. You can then send the letter via email attachment or even via fax.

Keep the letter short (1-2 pages at most). In the first paragraph, identify the bill by number and title, and ask your legislator to support/oppose the bill. Then very concisely lay out the points in favor of your position. Again, focus on the effects of the bill on you and the other constituents of the legislator. Close the letter by again requesting the specific action that you want the legislator to take (vote yes, vote no, etc.).

Do not forget to run a spellcheck on the letter and also to be sure you have the correct title of the legislator and the correct spelling of their name. Include all of your contact information as well.

MAKE A VISIT

Call the legislator’s office to set up the appointment. It is always best to meet with the legislator themselves, but often you may have to meet with a staffer who handles this issue area. If you’re going with a group, be sure to coordinate within the group who will make what points and in what order. Present the most important points first to be certain they are covered. Your time with the legislator or staffer may be limited. Convey the personal impact of the legislation and how it affects the legislator’s district. Be sure to directly ask the legislator to support your position on the issue. Be prepared to explain your opponent’s position and the reasons why they are wrong.

After the meeting, send a thank you and include a brief recap of the issue, your position, and ask again that the legislator support you. Regardless of how you contact your legislator, be sure that you are always concise, direct, and professional. Ask for their support of your position and explain how this bill will affect you and the rest of their constituents.

Remember to always reach out to the Government Relations Committee to be sure we are aware of the issue and to provide you with the support and resources you need to successfully engage in our democratic process. [rick.russell@aaert.org]

 

Rick Russell is the Chief Operating Officer at Neal R. Gross & Co. and for 35 years has been involved in all aspects of the court reporting and transcribing business. Rick has a BA in Political Science and Economics from Colgate University and an MBA in Finance from George Washington University. Rick has been a member of AAERT since 1995 and over the years has worked on many projects for the Government Relations Committee. In 2010 he joined the Board of Directors and since that time has also been serving as Chair of the Government Relations Committee.

 

rick.russell@aaert.org


 

 

Association Management Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal