Getting to know you…getting to know all about you. These Julie Andrews lyrics are familiar to some of us classic folks, but who knew they applied to something like advocacy? Last week, about 30 Missourians had the privilege of attending the annual CADCA Forum, and, more importantly, had the opportunity to get to know some of our federal legislators. As exhilarating as this experience was, one does not have to go to this extreme to start the advocacy process.
So, where do you begin? Do you know who your representative and senator are, but not much else? You are not alone! The best place and time to start getting to know him or her is here, and now. With a little research, patience, and diligence, you will soon know more about your legislator than just their political affiliation!
If you do not know who your legislators are, you will need to determine your 9-digit zip code by typing in your home address. Once you have this, you are ready to navigate to the House of Representatives website. Type in your zip code where it says “Who Is Your Representative?” and it will take you directly to his or her page. Now you can determine: how long they have been in office, what bills they sponsor or have sponsored in the past, and what they may be willing to sponsor. You can also read their bio to ascertain what their personal interests are, what civic organizations they belong to, what their professional background is, and if they are from a rural or urban community. Use this same process with your Senator and click where it says “Legislator Lookup”.
Now, to get a little more acclimated with their policy interests, investigate which committees they serve on. For example, a farmer may serve on the Agriculture committee, a teacher on the Elementary and Secondary Education committee. Make a special note of which Appropriations committee they serve on to further determine basic interests. If you want to see how your legislator voted on past bills, email ACT Missouri at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will research it for you.
For information on lobbyists that are financially contributing to your legislator, check the reports on the Missouri Ethics Commission website.
Remember, legislators rely on their constituents for input, stories, data, and most importantly, votes! Email your legislator, set up an appointment if you desire, or just offer to be a resource on your area of expertise. You will be singing “Getting to Know You…” in no time!