Three ideas to keep in mind when speaking with your legislators

Young women from Greenbrier County met with one of their representatives, Senator Stephen Baldwin, on Tuesday. Photo by Taylor Bennett, The Hub.

BY TAYLOR BENNETT, POLICY COORDINATOR, THE HUB

This week, deeper discussion around what will likely become the biggest issues this session began in earnest. Until now, issues like logging in state forests, redistricting, and free community and technical college were just part of a laundry list of proposed bills. Now that they’ve been put on committee agendas, lobbyists and citizens alike have come out of the woodwork to let their representatives know what they think.

And that’s a good thing.

I’ve been struck by the incredible responsibility that citizens have, that you and I have, to help our legislators know the facts about issues that we care about. Even if an elected official is the best representative in the world, they are still a human being with a limited amount of time to research each issue that they need to vote on.

They need us to help them understand the issues we care most about.

We’ve talked before about the sheer number of bills that come before the Legislature every session. While we’re not at peak numbers yet, legislators still have their plates full trying to understand everything that’s put in front of them.

They need someone to provide them with information about the issues that they don’t have time to research themselves. They represent us, but they also rely on us to provide them with the facts that they need to do their jobs well.

Here are three ideas to keep in mind about what information is useful to legislators:

  1. Stick to the facts. Provide your legislator with facts that support your position on the issue without overstating or embellishing
  2. Give them only the most important information. Make sure that what you’re going to say is short and to the point, and that any information sheets or flyers that you provide include brief, bulleted facts
  3. Tell them how you will be impacted and what you would like them to do. Don’t be afraid to tell your representatives how you’ll be impacted, positively or negatively. Then, be sure to let them know what you’d like them to do, whether it’s voting for or against a bill, sponsoring a bill you’d like introduced, or drumming up support for an issue amongst their colleagues.  

 

This is one way that you and I can make a big difference in ensuring that our representatives are able to vote on issues that we care about the issues we care most about.

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