While there are many strategies that chapters and their members can utilize to successfully lobby on behalf of radiology, this top 10 listing illustrates some of the most important things to keep in mind.
10 Tips for Lobbying State Legislatures
10. Invest in the future. At least six times a year, take 30 minutes of your time to contact a lawmaker by letter, phone, e-mail, office visit, etc. That will make you more active than 99.9 percent of all citizens and therefore 99.9 percent more legislatively successful. Remember, lobbying your state legislators is a year-round effort.
9. Be a good winner and a good loser. Don't burn bridges. Your adversary on one issue may be your ally on the next. Write a thank-you note to the lawmaker no matter the outcome.
8. Educate. What better way to describe the importance of an issue to a lawmaker than to show him or her up close and personal? Invite lawmakers to your office or other appropriate locations to put a face on your issue. Most state lawmakers are not full-time and they value the opportunity to learn more about an issue from an "expert" in the field.
7. Be flexible. Sometimes you and your lawmaker will have to compromise. Assess what you can realistically achieve now, and work on the rest later. And be patient. Sometimes decisions will take months.
6. Be a glutton for punishment. The more responsibility and involvement you assume, the more vigorous the commitment and support you can expect from your lawmaker.
5. Remember power in numbers. There's strength in numbers. This is true for financial support as well as for all forms of communication. Remind your lawmaker how many people (i.e., votes) in your organization share your position. Again, think volume.
4. Reach out. Include lawmakers on your mailing list for chapter newsletters, and make sure you are on their mailing lists, as well.
3. Be nosy. Ask your lawmakers to state their position. If their position agrees with yours, ask what you can do to strengthen that support and how you can get others to help support them. If their position is different from yours, ask what information or show of public support is necessary to change that position.
2. Use examples to communicate position. Explain the logic of your position in straightforward terms — jobs, cost, how many people will be affected, etc. Always have detailed information you can give to explain your logic. (It's a "must leave behind" for office visits). In all communications, be sure to include the bill number and/or name of the legislation or regulation, as well as your name, postal and e-mail addresses, and home and office phone numbers.
1. Be an unashamed clock-watcher. Don't waste anyone's time. Get to the point fast, and focus on your issue. Keep your visit to no longer than 15 minutes; lawmakers will appreciate your consideration for their busy schedules.
Many of the items in the above list can be credited to Patrick Haggerty. Haggerty is an author and has given presentations to special interest groups on political activism in 40 states.