When Advocating in Legislative Hearings
- SHOW UP – Showing up at the hearings is vital. Numbers speak. Showing up demonstrates to legislators the breadth of support for the legislation you support. When attending a Legislative Hearing, arrive early so that you can network with other advocates and get a seat.
- SPEAK UP – Sign up to speak at the hearing. This can only be done on-site just before the hearing starts. Prepare to speak by doing research, know your issue and talking points, bring prepared remarks. Depending on the committee, the issue, and your perspective, your remarks may be limited to a few minutes, be prepared to hit the most vital points. Bring copies of your statement for the committee and the media.
- CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS, BEFORE AND AFTER – The third step is one that veterans of such hearings emphasize may be the most important of all. It’s to call or visit your state representative and state senator BEFORE the hearing – presenting your case, asking them to appear at the hearing and providing them with the date, time and location of the nearest one – and again AFTER the hearing to let them know that it wasn’t just a one-time “venting” that they can forget about afterward. Find contact information for your state rep and state senator at http://www.scstatehouse.gov/legislatorssearch.php
Make an appointment to talk with your Legislators when they at home in your district. Legislators need to hear from voters in their districts. Make an appointment for yourself or a group. Get to know your Legislator. An initial visit without advocating for any position can lay the groundwork for working together effectively.
- BE COURTEOUS with Legislators and Political Leaders. Burning the first bridge prevents you from getting to the second one. Thank the Legislator for his/her time. Follow-up.
- ENCOURAGE others to become engaged in the process.
— Based on information received from GunSense SC.