The summer months can be the best time to connect with lawmakers back in their home districts. State legislative and federal congressional “recess” periods allow lawmakers to connect with constituents to solicit feedback and get perspectives and suggestions on issues that are important to the communities they serve. This year is especially important given it is an election year. Your state and federal representatives are likely to spend even more time back at home and on the campaign trail and will be listening closely to what you have to say.

Why You Should Get Involved

State and federal officials are frequently faced with decisions that may impact your industry, the business community, or your livelihood. Educating lawmakers on the issues that are important to you is a key component of grassroots advocacy efforts. Working with and getting to know lawmakers and familiarizing them with your issues can make them advocates for your concerns, and can increase the likelihood that they will listen to you and rely on you as a trusted resource in the future.

Grassroots Advocacy on a State Level

State legislators are elected by their constituents and therefore are interested in local issues and their impact. However, they are continually facing difficult choices and decisions when it comes to funding priorities and budget cuts. That is why legislators need to hear from you. They want to have reliable information that they can draw upon to make their decisions and they ultimately want to deliver positive outcomes to their constituents. Hearing from you about your industry and the impact of legislation is important. In addition, offering solutions or even options for compromise on more difficult policy decisions can be very helpful.

Grassroots Advocacy on a Federal Level

Grassroots advocacy does not stop at the state level. Public policy enacted at the federal levels by both legislators and regulatory agencies may affect the way you operate on a daily basis and may ultimately impact your bottom line. That is why it is equally as important to educate and inform your federal legislators as well. These elected officials are your voice in Washington, DC and they need to hear your thoughts and concerns before they are faced with making decisions on important policy.

The Importance of Involvement Now

You do not have to wait until there is a hot issue or harmful legislation proposed to make contact with your lawmakers. Establishing relationships now and being recognized not only as an influential leader, but a reliable resource for information is the best for long term effectiveness. The most powerful way to get lawmakers to think about the effects of the decisions they make, is by putting a “face” to the issue– by introducing yourself as the one who is or will be directly affected by their policies or regulations.

Connecting with Lawmakers Back at Home

There are a variety of ways to connect with your state and federal representatives over the summer months and leading up to the fall elections. These may include visiting them during their district office hours, attending local town hall meetings, or even hosting a legislator at your business. The important thing to remember is that YOU are your elected officials’ best resource and they want to know your opinions and need your expertise.

Annette Cruz

Annette Cruz

Annette Cruz was The Alliance health policy consultant. Cruz was responsible for analyzing health policy issues at the state and national level and working with The Alliance Health Policy Committee to develop strategies to influence high impact issues.

Cruz began public service as a staff person in the Wisconsin State Legislature, where she specialized in health and social services policy issues. She later served as a health policy advisor and policy director for Governors Tommy Thompson and Scott McCallum. Most recently she served as the director of government affairs in a consultant role for Blue Cross & Blue Shield United of Wisconsin.

Cruz received her master's degree in health services administration from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she also earned a bachelor's degree in Behavioral Science & Law.
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Annette Cruz

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