The new legislative session is officially underway. While many legislative leaders were re-elected, there are also dozens of new House and Senate members joining the ranks. Do you know who represents you? What committees do they serve on? How to track the bills that matter to kids in your community?
Recently we put together a new, in-depth toolkit to help child advocates understand the General Assembly and how the process works:
Download the toolkit: Understanding Legislative Advocacy for Children in North Carolina: A Guide to the General Assembly
This tool is intended to empower members of our Child Advocacy Network (CAN) members by affording a greater understanding of the North Carolina General Assembly, the legislative process, and the power brokers on Jones Street. You can use these modules to educate yourself as an advocate in the civic engagement process on behalf of North Carolina children and their communities.
Tips for meeting with legislators
As you’re preparing to speak up for kids with your elected leaders, here are a few of my top tips for building relationships with your state legislators:
- Thank them for their service to the state, and for the opportunity to speak to them about the subject at hand. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with some of the issues that your legislators have worked on previously. Thanking them for something good they’ve done for your community is a great way to start a conversation.
- Acknowledge differences. You will not agree on everything – but that’s okay! Find the places where you do agree and work together from there to make a difference for kids. There are always opportunities for partnership.
- Do your homework. Legislators share lots of information about the issues they’re working on and what they most value – whether in their constituent newsletter, Facebook page, or campaign website. Make sure you understand the issues that matter to them and how they tie in with your priorities. Knowing what legislators value gives you a place of connection that can help them understand your issue from their own perspective.
- Messenger is just as important as the message – or more so. Everyone has their trusted sources of information. A pediatrician is a great messenger on child health, and the local chamber of commerce member is a great messenger on business issues. If your argument is that a given policy is good for business – make sure a business person is delivering that message.
- Smile and connect with legislators and their staff. Being real and being friendly can break down barriers and make sure conversations start on the right foot.
- Follow up with the data. Make sure you bring the facts and data that support your policy asks. Don’t know where to find good data on kids in your community? Check out the data center on our website!
These six tips are a starting point for your conversations with elected officials. For a deep dive on how the legislative process works, be sure to jump into our toolkit: Understanding Legislative Advocacy for Children in North Carolina: A Guide to the General Assembly.
Take Action: Stay connected to all the action for kids on Jones Street – sign up for our weekly Legislative Update. Each week I’ll send you the latest on new bills, bills moving forward, the budget, and how to make your voice heard.
Thank you for being a voice for children!