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Advocacy in the Interim

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Advocacy during the legislative session has its pluses and minuses. During the four (or so) months of the legislative session, you can find your legislators easily. You can email them at their legislative email addresses, and get a response.  They have staff to help research your issues and help keep up on letters, calls, emails, and requests.  They hold public forums and town hall meetings on the weekends to keep in contact with their constituents.  But while access may be easier, the time legislators have to address your concerns is very limited.  It's a short four months, and they are confronted with some of the most difficult of issues, like property tax reform, Medicaid expansion, education reform, and mental health and disability services redesign.  They must address farm issues and taxes, economic issues like business incentives and small business development, social issues like gay marriage and abortion, and topical issues like gun control and the death penalty.  They have alot to do in a short four-month window. 

So while advocating during the session months is timely, and you can easily find your legislators, your legislators do not have a lot of time to delve deeply into the issues.  That is why the interim period - the time when legislators are not in session - is a great time to lay the groundwork for your advocacy.  If you look at it like farming, the interim months (summer and fall) are the times where you plant your seeds and let them take root in your legislators' minds.  The session months (winter and spring) are the times when you cultivate and harvest your crop. 

During the interim, you will find your legislators at home, working their "real jobs" and taking part in community activities.  Some read their legislative emails, others ask their constituents to email their home emails.  Here are a few tips to finding your legislators when they are not in session:

  1. Find out who represents youClick here and be prepared to enter your address, with zipcode.

  2. Call or write your legislator at home.  You can get a list of home addresses and phone numbers here.
    • Be respectful of the time. Do not call during meal hours, and certainly not too early or late in the day.
    • Calls on weekends are fine, and probably preferred. 
    • Introduce yourself, and ask how they like to be contacted during the interim.
    • Ask if they check their legislative emails, and if not, ask for an alternative email address.
    • Offer to help on their campaigns, like marching in parades, helping with mailings, or door knocking.

  3. Find interesting ways to educate your legislators on your issues.
    • Host a "lunch and learn" with your legislators and others in your community.
    • Take your legislators on a tour that demonstrates the importance of your issue.
    • Meet for coffee with your legislators, and invite other community leaders.
    • Write letters to the editor, or meet with your local paper to encourage them to do a story on your issue.
    • Help others tell their stories - to make the issue personal.
    • Contact ID Action for other ideas!

So start planting those seeds now - and watch them grow when session comes around again in January!