Showing it’s (Not) Just One Opinion

Legislators discuss potential revisions to a bill. Photo by Perry Bennett, Legislative Photographer.

BY TAYLOR BENNETT, POLICY COORDINATOR, THE HUB

So, you’ve met with your legislators. You’ve talked them through your issue and asked them to vote in your interests on a proposed bill or to move it through the committee that they chair. But things still don’t seem to be moving.

Sometimes it’s tough to get action on an issue, particularly if legislators have only heard one person’s opinion. Legislators are elected to act on the interests and goals of everyone they represent. So, if you know that it’s not just you who will be impacted by a proposed bill and you’re not sure how to move forward, here are a few thoughts on how to turn “my opinion” into “our opinion.”

1) Ask yourself, “Who also cares about the issue?”

Two questions to ask to determine who might also want to share their opinion are: “What makes me care about this issue?”, and “Who is already working on it?”

  • Ask yourself what prompted you to care about this issue. It’s likely that what made you care you will make others care also. Additionally, keep your eyes out for ways that the issue you care about is related to or impact other groups of people – you might find there are people on your team you didn’t expect.
  • If you’re working on this issue, it’s like that other people or organizations will be as well. Look for groups of people who are working to help connect folks like you with their legislators. They’ll have lots of ideas for how you can help people connect as well.

 

2. Get people together

Bringing people together to talk about the issue gives folks an opportunity to share information, understand the issue better and come to a consensus on what they want to ask for.

Additionally, it’s important to remember that policy action never occurs in a vacuum. When people come together, they tend to give themselves permission to ask for what they need with less fear of being singled out.

3. Decide how you’re going to communicate your shared opinion to your legislator

This might be as simple as talking through what to say on a phone call with legislators and setting up a time to do it. It could mean getting a group of folks together to go meet with legislators at the Capitol, sending in a large number of postcards asking for a particular action, or collecting signatures on a letter asking for a yes or no vote

Keep in mind that legislators want to hear from their constituents, particularly if they would be impacted by a proposed bill. Your friends and neighbors, members of your community are all represented by the same folks you are and may want to share their thoughts.

Whatever you choose to do, the goal is to show how many people share common perspective.

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Meet Elkins: A HubCAP Community

Last fall, we kicked off our HubCAP (Communities of Achievement Program) in six communities working on the Mon Forest Towns initiative: Cowen, Elkins, Franklin, Marlinton, Petersburg and White Sulphur Springs.

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