Roadmap for contacting your state senators and representatives
Why Meet with Your Legislators?
There are many ways to share your views on important policy matters with your elected officials. These officials are deluged with emails and on-line petitions that show a minimal commitment to the issue at hand and frankly can be easily disregarded. Phone calls and non-form letters help to personalize the issue.
In-person meetings show the greatest commitment by far. Face-to-face meetings with your elected officials and their staff are a powerful way to get to know them and communicate your views. Legislators like to see you, their constituent, shake your hand and hear what you have to say. You literally put a face to the issue when you meet them in person. It is a critical step in educating them about the issues that affect our lives.
It’s fine to go alone but also consider inviting others to go with you. They can provide moral support, help with note taking and show that there are others who actively support the issue.
Before the First Phone Call
Here are a few tips for having an effective, personal meeting with your state legislators:
- Google the name of your own State Senator/Representative – here is a link to the National Conference of State Legislatures www.ncsl.org. This website will connect you to information about your legislator and what bills they are sponsoring.
- Check YouTube for possible information about them
- Know the names of the Committees and Boards that regulate funeral laws
- Find out the dates of your state’s legislative session. Where are they in the cycle? Are there any bills pending on the subject of funerals, cremation etc.? See below.
The First Phone Call-Scheduling a Meeting
- Introduce yourself and mention the fact that you are a constituent.
- Request a face-to-face meeting with the legislator. Be prepared to offer home funeral/NHFA information to the staffer making the appointment time.
- Be willing to meet with the staffer if the legislator is not available. Staff people can often be very influential.
- Request a meeting at the district office as opposed to traveling to the state capitol. But be as flexible as possible.
- Ask for at least a half hour meeting.
- Be prepared to be persistent if the legislator is busy.
Organize Your Thoughts
- Be well prepared. You may only have a short time so be concise and clear.
- Personalize the issue – be ready to tell specific stories.
- Know what you are asking for.
- Bring hand-outs and show a short video clip if possible.
- “At A Glance” summary and printed copy of Restoring Families_Rights to Choose Final
- National Home Funeral Alliance, tri-fold NHFA Brochure_5-14
- A copy of your State Laws (which can be found at www.funeralethics.org/rights)
- Personal information – your brochure, business card, etc.
- Copies of the following articles
The First Meeting
- The main purpose should be to create a rapport with your local legislators and bring them an awareness of issues surrounding home funerals.
- Arrive early to gather your thoughts and get organized.
- Remind the legislator that you are a constituent and a member of the NHFA.
- Be concise and clear about the issues.
- Take notes of their questions, misconceptions and concerns.
- Be clear that this meeting is the beginning of an ongoing dialogue. You will be tracking legislation and may have follow-up questions.
- Ask if they have any suggestions of other legislators to talk to.
After the Meeting
- Follow-up with a note thanking them for their time and interest.
- Let our Legislative Committee know how it went so we know where your legislator stands on our issues.