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Tuesday September 30th 2014

How to Lobby

HOW TO LOBBY THE CONNECTICUT GENERAL ASSEMBLY

By Betty Gallo of Betty Gallo & Company

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that can. — Margaret Mead


Why Do I Think You Can Lobby?

Because we all lobby all the time. Whether it is lobbying to convince a friend to see a certain movie, a child to clean their room, the boss for a raise, a co-worker to help out on a project–we all lobby to get things we want. We list the arguments for our position, we point out the problems with the other side’s arguments, we enlist the help of those who are more powerful in the situation and we use our own position of power in the situation to get our way. All of this is lobbying. All are techniques we use to lobby the Connecticut General Assembly.

A Few Facts About The Connecticut General Assembly (GA)

Schedule: The GA is part-time. It is in session for five months in the odd numbered years and three months in even numbered years. The schedule is set by the State Constitution.

Membership: There are 151 House of Representative Members and 36 Senators in the GA. Democrats currently control the House and the Senate. The Governor, Dannell Malloy, is a Democrat. The Lt. Governor, Nancy Wyman, is also a Democrat. The Lt. Governor serves as the President of the Senate meaning she presides over the Senate, but she only votes if there is a tie. The highest ranking member of the Senate is the President Pro Tempore, Donald Williams, a Democrat. He is elected by the membership of the Senate. The House of Representatives is presided over by the Speaker of the House, who is Brendan Sharkey, a Democrat. He is a member of the House and elected by the House members.

Committees: The GA has joint committees with members from both the House and the Senate. Each Committee has a House and a Senate Chair. The number of Senators and Representatives assigned to each Committee is proportional by party and by house.

Unlike Congress, members of the GA do not have a lot of staff. They also do not receive a lot of phone calls or mail on most issues. Legislators acknowledge that they are impressed and give special attention to an issue if they receive even 10 letters or phone calls about a particular subject.

Visiting With Your Legislator

Visiting your legislator is probably the most effective way to influence him/her. Remember that legislators are really busy, so you’ll need to be flexible and try and schedule the meeting at their convenience. You should also limit the meeting to a discussion of one or two issues.

It is a good idea to have more than one person at the meeting. Keep the atmosphere of the meeting friendly. You are there to exchange ideas. It is sometimes just as important to know why a legislator opposes your position as it is to know that the legislator supports your position.

Leave literature for the legislator (either on the issue or general information on any organization with which you are working on the issue). This will serve as a reminder of your visit and the issue.

Follow up the visit with a thank you note and perhaps more information on your issue. If the legislator asked for certain information be sure you get back to the legislator with that information. Remember that the main objective of your contact is to establish an ongoing relationship with your legislator and establish yourself (and any organization with which you are affiliated) as a reliable source of information.

Be sure to take notes on the main points covered in the meeting. Keep a copy for your records and be sure to send a copy to any organization with which you are affiliated that is lobbying the issue.

What You Can Do If You Live Outside Connecticut

Connecticut State Legislators will be much more interested in hearing from their constituents than from someone outside their district. That doesn’t mean that there’s nothing you can do though.

Contact the legislators who represent the city/town where your university is located. Identify yourself as someone who:

  • Works in their district
  • Works with people who live in their district
  • Teaches people who live in their district and state

Then segue into the talking points provided

Legislators Really Do Listen to their Constituents. Let Them Know What You Think!

 

 

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