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Advocate's Guide to Personal Visits with Legislators

​​Personal visits with a legislator are the most effective method of advocating your issue. Use the following guide to help you make your visit a success.​ 

Download the Advocate's Guide to Personal Visits with Legislators handout.

Before the Visit
​​
  1. ​Call the legislator's office. ​The best opportunity to set up a meeting is during a legislative recess​. If the legislator is unable to meet, ask to meet with their staff person handling the issue.

  2. Make an appointment
    • State the name and or number of the bill or issue and your position.
    • State your attendees' names, addresses, and affiliations. Notify the office in advance of any changes in this list.
    • Confirm the meeting date, time, attendees, purpose, and background in writing.​
  3. Prepare for the meeting
    • ​Plan on the meeting lasting between 15-30 minutes.
    • Develop a one-page position paper and make copies to distribute at your meeting.
    • Educate yourself about the official - their background, political philosophy and the number of community associations in their district.
    • Consider what questions may be asked and develop answers to those questions.​
  4. Be flexible - Legislator's schedules often changed due to urgent meetings, hearings or votes so your meeting many be canceled or delayed. You can always ask to meet with a staff person responsible for the issue.

During the Visit


  1. ​​​​​Arrive 5-10 minutes prior to the meeting.

  2. Briefly introduce yourself and other attendees. 
    • ​Let the legislator know how many individuals reside in your association(s).
    • Mention that you are a constituent and member of CAI.​
  3. Clearly explain your issue.
    • Use layperson's terms.
    • Use personal experiences to describe how the issue affects you or your community.
    • ​Do not read from your position paper.
  4. Ask if the official has any questions. Then ask directly for his or her support.
    • Pay attention to the response. He or she might be talking with several groups about the issue to determine their position.
    • Never argue or act combative with the legislator or staff person.​
  5. At the end of the meeting be gracious and the legislator or staff member for his or her time:
    • Sum up any commitments made by the legislator.
    • Offer to provide further information or a meeting with other residents.
    • Leave your written position paper.​

After the Visit​​​​

  1. Write a personal thank you note to the legislator and any staff with whom you met. Briefly restate your position and include any additional information that may have been requested. Provide a summary of your understanding of the outcome of the meeting.

  2. ​Maintain contact with the legislator as the issue progresses. Continue to provide feedback or input to remind the legislator or staff person of your ongoing interest in the issue. ​



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