Opinion: Do’s and Don’t’s of Citizen Lobbying

by Taylor Swick | AMMA PAC, Lobbyist

Today, at 2PM in the Arizona House of Representatives, the Military Veterans & Regulatory Affairs Committee will hear HB2018 and HB2029, proposed legislation from Rep. Vince Leach of Tucson. Respectfully, these bills will limit Arizona’s dispensaries from growing outdoors or from moving business locations. AMMA PAC urges medical marijuana supporters to gather for today’s hearing.

Here are some of our suggestions:

Our military and uniformed officers may be the greatest example of how a uniform translates the role a person plays. At the legislature, the “uniform” you wear speaks volumes. It is strongly recommended that professional attire be worn when addressing or monitoring the legislature.

The goal of any productive “lobby” is to influence and educate members of the governing body. Choosing to acquiesce to the culture of the legislature will enable you to move past initial roadblocks and gain Policy Makers’ attention with your message.

Lobbying is talking about what matters to you. Lobbying is not a dirty word. It is talking with your elected official or a member of their staff about important issues.

​It’s your job to tell them what’s important. Policy Makers are inundated with hundreds of different issues every day. By talking to them about these issues, it helps them recognize that it’s important to their constituents and motivates them to act.

You’re the expert. Nine times out of ten you will know more about the issue than the staffer or elected official you’re meeting with, just by reading our one-page fact sheets.

It works! You can make a real impact by merely talking to your official.

Insider Hints:

Arrive early, but don’t be surprised if the staffer or official you are meeting with is late.

Politicians are people too. It’s easy to be intimidated by all of the rhetoric and grandeur but at the end of the day they’re just normal folks like you and me.

When you sit down and talk, be patient and listen, but don’t let the official or staffer run the whole show – it’s YOUR visit! Introduce all of the delegation’s members and let them know where you are from in their district or state.

Stick to the issues and stay on message.

If you don’t know the answer to one of their questions, don’t try to make up an answer. Tell them you’re not sure and you’ll ask one of our staff members to reply. This will give you a reason to follow up with additional information.

Wait until the end of a meeting to give them your pamphlet or other information or they will spend your time reading instead of listening to you.

Conclude your meeting with “The asks”: Remember legislative staff would prefer to be agreeable, but not to agree with anything. Your job is to get clear answers.

Let the staffer know that you will follow up to find out if the official agreed to the “asks.”

To follow up, call or email your contact to thank them for the meeting and find out which of our “asks” the official will follow through on. Often you will need to call back many times before you get a firm “yes” or “no.” Polite persistence will pay off; once they understand you are not going away, they will respond!

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