Keep at it! Here are some tips as you attempt to make your voice heard at the Capitol.
Be Organized & Ready
- Use the interim to connect with legislators & build a relationship with their staff
- Request bill and resolution drafts early
- Coordinate with allies to share the workload
- If meeting with legislators as a group, designate a key spokesperson
- Consider leaving behind an information sheet that emphasizes your key points
- Have a plan of action
Be Aware Of
- The legislative calendar
- Identify bills early
- Know your deadlines
- Deadlines vary depending on the number of committee referrals
- Committees have their own schedules (48 or 72 hour notice for hearings)
- Keep your eye on issues, not just bills
- The process
- Who has power over your bills?
- Committee Chairs – they decide if a bill will be scheduled for a hearing
- Leadership sometimes weighs in
- Potential allies and opponents
- Don’t worry if $ is blanked out or a “defective” date appears – this is common practice
- Who has power over your bills?
Be Prepared & Informed
- Sign up for Hearing Notices and create Measure Tracking Lists
- Use the capitol.hawaii.gov website to find bills, sign up for Hearing Notices, and set up Measure Tracking Lists
- Monitor subject matter committees
- Someone in your coalition should be receiving hearing notices for subject matter committees
- Prepare draft testimony before it is scheduled for a hearing
- Know committee hearing schedules – perhaps make note on your calendar
- Monitor media to keep a larger focus
- Sign up to receive PAR’s emails – you’ll be advised of important developments at the legislature, find new resources, and get helpful tips on advocacy
- Know your issue
- Be a trusted source of information for your bills
- Know what you don’t know…and don’t be afraid to say so
- Know your opposition
- Who are the other stakeholders and what are they saying? Give the legislator a heads up on expected criticism so they won’t be caught off guard
- Don’t be afraid to tell a personal story (but keep it short)
- How does this legislation affect your family, clients, business, neighbors, etc.?
- How does this legislation affect you?
Be Engaged & Proactive
- Schedule visits with legislators
- Clearly communicate your “ask” and follow up!
- Get others involved to testify, offer support, and track bills
- Use media and social media to publicize the issue
- Testify in person or by Zoom
- Make use of advocacy groups and their resources
- Use the interim to check in – keep the issue fresh on the mind of legislators and their staff
- Be ready to communicate your vision
Be Flexible & Open to Compromise
- Work with legislators’ schedules and don’t dismiss working with their staff
- They may become an internal advocate for your issue
- Be prepared to negotiate
- Attempt to bring solutions
- Be constructive with criticism
- Have a backup plan
- Sometimes having “something” is better than “nothing” (sometimes, not)
- Listen to those you disagree with – they may be your best teachers
- Consider meeting with your opposition to discuss your common ground/differences
- Can you turn opponents into allies by finding “win-win” alternatives?
- Marathon, not a sprint
- May take years – do not give up!
- Resolutions can be used to further an issue
- Be ready to ask for another hearing, offer more testimony, or schedule another meeting
- Continue to communicate with legislators and stakeholders, and keep looking for solutions
- Network – you don’t have to do it alone!
- Debrief after session – use notes to sketch a new game plan