As you think about how your organization will interact with state legislators in 2015 you have to have a plan for how to tackle the new problems that come up in an election year. You have to set up your infrastructure to recognize the new legislators, educate new legislators on your organization, and educate your advocates on the new legislators. Capitol Impact provides comprehensive advocacy tools that our clients use when making the transition during a new election year. Here’s how:
- The Capitol Impact advocacy system provides a comprehensive database of all state legislators and legislative committees. During an election year, each state is reviewed and updated with new legislators and state officials. From the time of the election it takes approximately 6 weeks to have all 50 states updated. The updates include contact information for each legislator and biographical information about the elected official. We also provide the year elected which will help to work on clearing out connections advocates had with the occupant of a particular office.
- Some states are very particular about who the state legislators are from the time the election is completed until the start of the 2015 session. In some states, the newly elected officials are not sworn in until the start of the 2015 legislative session. So from the date of the election until the start of the session, your representatives do not change. This poses lobbyists a problem in that can they take up official business with new folks when they are not sworn in? it is always best for lobbyists to find out the state policy on when legislators officially become lawmakers after an election.
- The Legislator Database also includes all of the house and senate committee members. In all states, the legislature must convene before new committee assignments can be made. The Capitol Impact legislator data Base is typically updated within two weeks of having the new committee assignments published to the public
- The Capitol Impact advocacy software allows your advocates to tell the system who they know at the Capitol. We store the relationship as connected with the district or the office (not the person), so that constituent relations need to be removed if there is a new official in that district. As the advocacy manager, the Capitol Impact softwareprovides ability to look at the newly elected officials and clean out the relationships people had with the former occupant of a district or office.
- Once the relationships are cleaned out, the system lets you send invitations to all of the advocates in your advocacy system, asking them to come back to the site and update their relationships based on the new members of your states house, senate and state wide officials. The system also allows the invitation to be sent to people who never joined the advocacy system to increase your audience.
- With regard to educating the legislators on your constituents that live in their districts, the system provides the ability to email legislators and include a list of your advocates or members or alumni or whatever audience you have that lives or works in their districts. If you have the desire to alert the elected officials that they have your constituents in their districts, you can use a three click application to prepare the lists and send them to one or all legislators.
Capitol Impact looks at advocacy as a constantly changing effort. Legislators may leave office prior to an election, which requires that your advocacy system have tools in place to manage these changes quickly and re-engage constituents to find out if you have any connections to the new person. From a strategy standpoint, new people may require new strategies for having your voice heard. If there is a party shift in the makeup of your legislature, do you have the communications tools to introduce your issues to the new party? Have you thought through how the new party platform aligns with your organizations needs and priorities? If there are no major party shifts, do the new players know what your needs and priorities are? How can your issues become part of their focus in the coming session?
As a professional in the political arena, you have been through this before. However, because you have an advocacy following, there needs to be some additional thought as to how to bring those people along into 2015 with the changes that will take place in the lawmaker audience with whom you will interact.