For those not familiar with the back work that goes into visiting our Pennsylvania Representatives during the Legislative Day, here’s a brief summary.
Once the delegation has been selected, each attendee is responsible for making appointments with their assigned legislators.
This usually involves a phone call to the legislator’s office to determine the name and email of the office scheduler. All appointments are required to be made in writing.
We have seen this process go very smoothly requiring little in the way of follow up. On the other hand, sometimes multiple written request and phone calls are necessary. Even then an appointment is not guaranteed.
The opportunity to meet directly with a Legislator is rare. Usually, meetings are made with Legislative Aides or Directors. In the event that an appointment cannot be scheduled, it is worth just showing up in the Legislator’s office and asking to speak with an aide. If they are not available you can leave documentation detailing the imperatives.
This year, I was only able to obtain 2 out of 5 appointments. No worries!
In Congressman Barletta’s office, the request to speak with a Legislative Aide was initially rejected. After leaving materials and getting the Legislative Director’s contact information we left the Congressman’s office. Following a brief visit to the rest room, the Legislative Director Kelly approached me in the hallway. She asked if I just tried to meet with her. We spoke casually for a few moments when she invited us back into the office to discuss the imperatives. Coincidentally she is very passionate about disability and education related issues.
The lessons learned this year:
- “Appointment? We don’t need no stinking appointment!” – There’s no loss to asking for a meeting at the office if an appointment could not be scheduled.
- Speak Up! – Take any opportunity to talk about the issues. You never know who is listening.
The last step in the meeting process is always the follow through. In the experience cited above and every other meeting, following up with the person attending the meeting is essential. It can make the difference in advancing your issue. Remember, Legislators have hundreds of issues being brought to their attention. Keeping your as high on the to do list as possible is the goal.