The Best Time to Lobby
Several weeks before a bill is considered at any level, Elected’s and their staffs’ meet to plan strategies and take positions on a bill. If your lobbying effort is too late, a decision may have already been made. If you lobby too early, the impact of the lobbying effort may have been lost in the intervening time.
The best time to lobby is when a representative or senator is considering writing or sponsoring a bill that will benefit or harm your cause. If you make your position known at this stage, you have a greater opportunity to influence the legislation or even kill the Bill.
For example, Preservationists can participate in many different ways as a bill progresses through its many stages toward enactment. You should inform your representative or senators of your position on a bill soon after it is introduced and suggest any changes you would like to see made. If its positive for you, encourage them to show their support by becoming a cosponsor of the bill, or, if a negative, ask them to oppose the legislation.
Two or three weeks before a proposal is at a decision point in the legislative process, reinforce your position with a letter, phone call, e-mail, or personal visit..
Follow the bill’s process closely. You will need to reinforce your position with your member and other members as the bill reaches each step of the legislative process.
Lobbying during election time: Election time and during campaigns offer a perfect opportunity for grassroots lobbyists. Candidates of both parties will spend time in their districts, giving you the chance to attend candidate forums, debates, or other gatherings to ask for their views on preservation to keep to our example. These public forums will expose preservation issues and the candidate’s stand on them to a broader audience. This is also the time to submit questions on preservation to candidates during meetings, public forums, or when they are canvassing a neighborhood. Try to elicit specific commitments of support. These become powerful lobbying tools later.
Candidates at all levels of government respond to voting power. Your vote can be a positive force. After the election, congratulate the winning candidate and offer your assistance on legislation affecting historic preservation.
Remember, a bill must be passed by both the lower and upper houses. If your representative is not sympathetic to an issue, lobby your senator and vice versa.
Martin Milita is a senior director with Duane Morris Government Strategies, a consultancy and lobbying firm that represents clients seeking the support of state- and federal-level government agencies. Commanding a career that spans more than three decades, Martin Milita possesses extensive experience serving private and public sector clients in legislative affairs and activities. Martin Milita holds a Bachelor’s degree in Government and Politics from King’s College and a Juris Doctor from the James E. Beasley School of Law at Temple University.