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The State Capitol isn't the only place where crowds are growing.  Legislators are reporting record turnout at their local legislative forums, held on Fridays and Saturdays in their districts.  

Last year we tracked more than 500 of these events in our calendar.  You can see the next three weeks of public forums here.  

Local Forum Tips

  • Get there early. As you may have seen from news stories, legislative forums have been packed. Think about going 15-30 minutes early in order to get a seat.  The other added benefit to going early - you may get a chance to talk with your legislator one-on-one, even if its just to introduce yourself. Bring a business card, or something with your contact information on it.
  • Understand and follow the rules. There are a lot of people, and a lot of controversial issues being discussed.  Many forum organizers have decided to issue rules so that things go smoothly and everyone has a chance to ask questions, particularly those from the district.  If you don't know the rules, ask. Some forums want you to submit questions, others just call on you.  Don't be shy - just ask how questions will be handled.

  • Be confident.  Remember that your legislator was elected to serve and take input from constituents.  This is their job - and they can't help you unless you ask!
  • Be Iowa nice! If you’re called on, start by thanking your legislator for attending the forum. Introduce yourself, and maybe say how long you’ve lived or worked in the district. Ask them a simple question about an issue you care about.  If you aren't sure what to ask, contact some of the organizations you work with to see if they have examples.  Even if you and your legislator don’t see eye-to-eye on your issue, being polite and respectful will make your legislator much more likely to take you and your issues seriously.
  • Make it personal. A good question for a legislator includes facts (if you have them) and personal stories (the most important) to demonstrate how the issue directly affects you and others in the district.
  • Follow up. Send a quick email to your legislators after the event, thanking them for their time and for answering your question. If they disagreed with you, a polite email gives you another opportunity to raise the issue with them and provide them with more information.  Ask them to put you on their email newsletter lists.