As the saying goes: “New Year, new you!” Or in this case, New Year, new people in many government positions. As we turn over the calendar to a new year, we see new faces not only in our state legislatures, but also in our state executive branches, agencies and committees. This personnel turnover presents a fresh opportunity to start conversations with people on topics such as Medicaid, health and housing, the opioid crisis and so much more.

Building new relationships with policymakers can feel overwhelming, especially if there are dozens of newly elected officials on your list to meet. To help you as you launch into this work in the New Year, the Community Catalyst team published a new guide: Tips for Working with State Legislators. This resource provides suggestions for building and maintaining strong relationships with state legislators and can also be used as you develop strategies to connect with local elected officials, state agency staff or federal policymakers.

The guide offers helpful reminders for both new and seasoned advocates. It covers a variety of topics such as:

  • Building and sustaining relationships with legislators: the beginning of a new legislative session is a great time to coordinate with your staff or coalition partners to map the relationships you already have in place and the new relationships you will need to move your priorities forward.  The guide offers tips on how you can introduce yourself and your issues to state legislators along with establishing yourself as a reliable and credible resource.  
  • Developing a persuasive message: Preparation is key. Creating a well-informed plan before meeting with any decision maker is essential. The guide gives strategies for developing a persuasive message tailored for new and existing decision makers alike.
  • Identifying opportunities to engage: There are several opportune moments throughout the legislative session that you can leverage to connect with legislators, organize your members and raise visibility for your issues. This tool can help you to identify different points in the legislative calendar and policy-making processes to build support for your priorities.

We hope this new resource will be a helpful guide to you, your staff and your coalition partners as you begin to identify key allies, decision-makers and targets for your legislative work in 2019. Community Catalyst staff are ready and willing to help on any of the topics covered in the guide, so please don’t hesitate to reach out if you would like to take a deeper dive. And don’t forget to visit Alliance for Justice’s Bolder Advocacy Initiative for guidance or technical assistance on lobbying rules. Happy New Year and Happy New Legislative Session!