Lobbying by Personal Visit
Personal face-to-face contact may be the best way to advocate for your cause. If you choose to travel to Annapolis to meet with your legislator in person, consider the following:
- Call ahead to arrange an appointment. If an appointment cannot be scheduled, ask when the legislator is normally in the office and be there at that time.
- Begin on a positive note. Thank your legislator for taking the time to meet. Mention if you are a constituent.
- Always be courteous when dealing with your legislator. Be firm in discussing the issue, but do not become argumentative or try to force your legislator into changing his/her position or committing to a position if he/she clearly does not want to.
- Be a good listener. Let your legislator ask questions as you go along and answer them with facts and understanding.
- Be clear about your position and what you would like your legislator to do. Identify the bill under discussion by name and number whenever possible.
- You can provide a short written statement on your position to present to your legislator to explain what the bill does and why he/she should support your viewpoint.
- Never give inaccurate information. It is far better to tell a legislator, “I do not know but will find out and get back to you.” Your credibility (and the legislator’s if he/she uses the misinformation) is at stake. Be sure to follow up with the complete set of facts.
- Ask your legislator how he/she plans to vote. Once you have presented your case, try to get a commitment. If he/she is uncertain, ask if more information would be helpful and be sure to follow through.
- A thank you letter after the meeting is important. It also gives you a second chance to make your pitch.
- If you cannot meet with your legislator, meet with an aide. Legislative staffers are important sources of information and may have substantial influence in the design, drafting, and passage of legislation.