Each session we see over a 1,000 pieces of legislation in Tallahassee. Out of these proposed pieces of legislation only 100 to 250 bills actually get passed in the 60 day session. How do these legislators pick what legislation makes it and what never makes it through the committee process?
There are many factors that could determine if a piece of legislation passes or not, it often comes down to one thing.....Pressure.
Some group, organization or activists are actively working to make it happen or make it not happen.
There are many groups contacting politicians to get the legislation heard or not heard in each of the committees and working to get the votes needed to pass or fail. There are thousands of lobbyists in Tallahassee working legislators on behalf of their clients. There are former legislators who come back and use their access to help move legislation or kill legislation on behalf of their clients.
How do we move the legislation that we want? The exact same way.
While there are groups that promise politicians large campaign contributions or other benefits that we do not offer, we can still overcome that with sheer numbers and knowledge. Just the fact of knowing exactly who to contact and when sometimes puts us at an advantage. The numbers do not have to be as large as you think to make a difference. We see it already with much of the legislation we already get involved with.
It all comes down to timing on actions. We have to make sure that both the short term (specific calls on legislation when it is being voted on) and long term (meeting with and communicating with your district Representative and Senator) are there across the state all year long.
If you are looking to influence your representative then there are some steps that you should take.
Start off by introducing yourself to your representative. Any relationship begins with an introduction. Call the district office and set up a meeting. NOTE: This should not be done during session or the committee weeks before session.
In that initial meeting you should listen to where the politician is at on the issues. Look for areas of agreement and find out what their priorities are. In that initial meeting focus on 3 issues that are important to you. Be short and concise with your issues. Make sure you use verifiable facts from reputable sources.
Go to any town halls or events for your representatives. It builds the relationship and their staff will also begin to recognize you. The more they see you the better influence you will have later on.
Tag them or their fan page on social media both when they do something you agree with and when they do something you don't agree with. However, make sure you are always doing both. This tells your representative that you are fair and follow their actions closely.
These relationships take time to build but it is worth the time and effort. We can always work to elect the people that best represent our values but those elections don't always go our way and in the meantime laws are being made that effect every aspect of our lives. You don't have to wait until the elections results are the way you want them. You can have a say right now and continue to have a say regardless of who is elected each year. It is the most important thing you can do as an activist.