How to Convey Your Message to Your Legislators

Each year, thousands of legislative proposals are introduced on subjects that affect you. Your input on these issues is critical. Understanding the process and holding your legislators accountable for their actions will help you affect the outcome. As a member of the Kansas Recreation and Park Association you have access to all the resources we have, but ultimately you need to be involved personally for the best results. Offered below are tips on how to involve yourself in the legislative process and steps you can take to make sure your voice is heard.

General Guidelines: Here are some guidelines for you to follow in contacting your legislators.

• Be thoughtful. Commend the right things your legislator does. That’s the way you’d like to be treated.
• Be reasonable. Recognize that there are legitimate differences of opinion. Never indulge in threats or recriminations.
• Be realistic. Remember that most controversial legislation is the result of compromise. Don’t expect that everything will go your way, and don’t be too critical when it doesn’t.
• Be accurate and factual. The mere fact that you want or do not want a piece of legislation isn’t enough. If an issue goes against you, don’t rush to blame the legislator for “failing to do what you wanted.” Make certain you have the necessary information and do a good job of presenting your case.
• Be understanding. Put yourself in a legislator’s place. Try to understand his/her problems, outlook and aims.
• Be friendly. Don’t contact your legislator only when you want his/her vote. Invite him/her to your agency or community. Keep in touch with him/her throughout the year.
• Give credit where it is due. If an issue goes the way you wanted, remember that your legislator deserves first credit. He/she has the vote, not you.
• Learn to evaluate issues. The introduction of a legislative bill doesn’t mean that it will become law. Whether you’re for it or against it, don’t get excited about it until you learn the who, what and why of it.
• Be cooperative. If your legislator makes a reasonable request, try to comply with it. You can help him/her by giving him/her the information he/she needs. Don’t back away for fear you are “getting into politics.”

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