This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.

» » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » »

A primer on communicating effectively with legislators “All Politics is Local!”

House Tip O’Neill is most closely associated with this phrase, which encapsulates the principle that a politician’s success is directly tied to the person’s ability to understand and influence the issues of their constituents. An elected official must appeal to the everyday con- cerns of those who elect them to office. With the rise of the Tea Party in 2010, it was argued, “all politics is national.” It’s a good twist, and it has a ring to it. But don’t be too quick to believe it over the long haul. Although many lo- cal, district and statewide candidates run on national issues, even though they can do very little if anything about those issues, nothing changes the fact that in November the votes will be cast by individuals for individuals running for individual district and statewide offices. Candidates who ignore the fact that “local concerns” must be taken care of — if elected won’t stay elected if they ignore local issues. To most lawmakers,


what “the folks back home” think about legislative issues is often far more important than positions taken by groups like the Association of Arkansas Counties. Te AAC staff talks with your legislators about bills of interest to our membership, and we advance AAC positions in committee meetings. We provide information as requested and help lawmakers prepare infor- mation for debate. We are the facilitators — YOU as county officials are the key lobbyists in the legislative process. Te work of lobbying the legislature continues throughout the

he work of lobbying the leg- islature continues throughout the year. While the work at the capitol during session is the most visible, the “off season” is busy as well.


year. While the work at the capitol during session is the most vis- ible, the “off-season” is busy as well. Currently, the AAC process for developing legislative objectives and priorities for the 2015 regular session is well underway. AAC staff and the AAC Legisla- tive Committee work hard all year to ensure that county issues get a fair hearing by state legislators, but the best tool in the tool kit is YOU — the county officials who can lobby and explain how the specifics of policy decisions made by state government will impact county government. Lobby — I keep using that term that seems to have negative connotations among many … but it shouldn’t. To lobby is simply “to try to influence public officials on behalf of or against proposed legislation.” It is indeed noble for county officials to provide facts,


he county government – legislative relationship boils down to the reality that “all politics is local!” Te phrase “all politics is local” has been a common phrase in U.S. politics for decades. Te former Speaker of the U.S.

Seems To Me...

documentation and expert informa- tion to legislators for or against legis- lation that affects county government — the level of government closest and most responsive to the people. It is, in fact, the responsibility of county officials to do so. Te crux of this article is not about conservative, liberal or moder- ate politics but that “politicians” — your House and Senate members — are much more responsive to their “home folks.” Here are a few tips when communicating with your legislators, starting with the most important.

Eddie A. Jones County Consultant

Get to Know Your Legislators: It is important to become well acquainted with your legislators before you actually need something from them. Help them to gain confidence with whom you are and what you have to say. From the end of one session to the beginning of the next, you should be looking for opportunities to interact with your legislators. Invite them to visit with you at the courthouse. Show them county government in action and explain the challenges that counties face. Meet with your legislators regular- ly before, during and after the session. Bottom line — establish a rapport with the representatives and senators that represent your county so they will be more accepting of your message when the time comes for requesting a vote for or against an important issue.

Provide Facts with Documenta-

tion Whenever Possible: One of the first things a lawmaker wants to know about a bill is how it will impact his or her county. When AAC sends out a message to “contact your legislator,” your email or phone conversation will always be stronger if you can illustrate the message with specific facts regarding how the legislation will impact your county — revenues lost or gained … or the costs of a proposed mandate on your county.

Be Persistent — But Brief and Succinct: Tell your legislators

what you want repeatedly and succinctly. Don’t assume they know what your issues and needs are. But remember legislators are inun- dated with information from multiple sources. More is not neces- sarily better. A lengthy letter or email may get placed in a pile with good intentions to read later — never to be seen again. Ten your opportunity to make your point is lost.


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56