What you should know about
It is what concerned
GRASSROOTS Americans do to Influence
LOBBYING? Legislators’ Decisions on
Grassroots lobbying involves:
FACTS about an
ELECTED OFFICIALS by
letter, telephone or
to your elected
PUT GOVERNMENT TO YOU CAN MAKE YOUR
WORK FOR YOU! VOICE HEARD
Want to take action? Have an through grassroots lobbying,
idea or a solution to better your the heart of our democratic
community, your life, or your
way of life.
business? Got a beef?
Because government must
know your wishes before it WHY grassroots
can respond to them. lobbying is
Grassroots lobbying is
simply the art of IMPORTANT?
communicating with your
IT’S YOUR RIGHT IT’S YOUR RESPONSIBILITY
To influence how your elected To speak up for good
representatives vote. Under the government. Each year, your
First Amendment to the U.S. legislators make decisions that
Constitution, every American has affect your tax dollars – and
freedom of speech, freedom of your life. It’s up to you, as
assembly, and the right to a citizen, to
petition the government for a voice your
“redress of opinions
As a consumer, taxpayer and citizen,
you’ve got the power. You can use it
effectively – if you know how.
HOW LAWS ARE MADE
Here are the steps a bill goes through when
introduced in the House. Although these steps are
specific to Congress, the principles set forth apply to
other levels of government.
1. BILL INTRODUCED the bill is sent to the full House where
A House member simply drops a bill into it’s debated, amended and voted on.
the “hopper,” a box on the clerk’s desk.
(Senators send their bills to clerks or 6. SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION
propose them from the floor.) If approved by the House, the bill goes to
the Senate. A Senate committee studies
2. COMMITTEE ACTION it, holds public hearing, and presents the
The bill is numbered, printed and sent to bill to the full Senate with its
the House committee that has recommendation.
jurisdiction over the subject of the bill.
(Committees are important – they can 7. SENATE ACTION
decide a bill’s fate early in the legislative The full Senate debates the bill, amends
process.) it, and votes on it.
3. PUBLIC HEARINGS 8. CONFERENCE COMMITTEE MEETS
The committee may schedule public If the House and Senate pass differing
hearings and invite concerned citizens, versions of the bill a conference
organizations and government agencies to committee made up of members from
provide facts and offer opinions on the both houses meets to resolve
bill. differences. The bill is then voted out of
conference, and the House and Senate
4. COMMITTEE REPORT each vote to accept or reject the revised
After analyzing the bill and listening to bill.
the public’s views, the committee may
change the bill, vote it down, allow it to 9. PRESIDENT’S OK
die by not taking any action, or report the The bill goes to the president for his
bill favorably to the full house. signature (or veto). If he does not take
action within 10 days of receiving the bill,
5. HOUSE PASSAGE
the bill becomes law automatically
(Congress must be in session.) A bill can
After leaving committee and being
also become law if 2/3 of both houses vote
scheduled on the congressional calendar, to override a president’s veto.
Under the Constitution, Congress has the power to make laws. A bill may be introduced in
either the House or Representatives or the Senate, and must be passed by both houses.
HOW YOU CAN INFLUENCE LEGISLATION
There’s a lot you can do – and the only “pull” you need is your own conviction!
BE INFORMED EXPRESS YOUR ORGANIZE VOTE!
Legislators VIEWS OPINION Above all, vote.
respond to power Always keep in In politics, It’s your best bet
of informed for protecting
mind that your strength lies in
opinion. The democratic
lawmakers are numbers. No
freedoms, and your
more you know elected to elected official constitutional
about an issue, represent your can afford to guarantee that
the easier you’ll interests. They ignore the weight your rights and
catch your need to stay in of public opinion. opinions are taken
legislator’s touch with you – As a grassroots into consideration.
attention, and or face the lobbyist, you can
the more prospect of losing engineer a So take the right
influence you’ll their jobs at publicity to vote seriously.
have. reelection time. campaign, form an Make sure you’re
registered to vote,
Likewise, you organization, or
For effective especially if you
need to stay in join a group of
have just moved or
contact with your touch with your people who feel turned 18 years of
elected officials, elected officials as you do about age.
study the history – or live with an issue.
of the issue, its legislation that Learn the
pros and cons, doesn’t represent candidates’
and your your views. positions on the
representative’s issues that are
voting record on important to you.
HOW TO WRITE YOUR REPRESENTATIVE
They depend on letters from you to tell them how to vote.
Many people believe
their letters to Congress REMEMBER
aren’t even read. This simply Your letter can influence
isn’t true. You can be certain your legislator’s vote. The
your letter will be read by an more thoughtful your
aide or the representative – letter, the more personal
and answered. Faxes, e-mails attention it will get.
and letters are good ways to stay in
touch with elected officials at any
level, federal, state, county or local.
Be Brief Be Direct
Boil your argument down to one page or Tell your representative what action you
less – any longer and your letter loses want him or her to take, such as
effectiveness. Attach any detailed introduce legislation, cosponsor a bill,
information you have to this one-page vote for (or against) a bill in committee
letter. or on the floor. If possible get his or her
committee to do what you ask.
Personalize Your Letter
State your views in your own words. Be Civil
Avoid using postcards and form letters. Don’t threaten insult, wisecrack or
Have the Facts
The more facts you know the better. Don’t Overdo It!
Refer to bills by title or number. Cite Don’t write too often, Keep your letters
experts when needed to back up your timely so your legislator can act
point. effectively on your behalf.
Focus on One Issue Compliment
Your letter will be given the attention it Always praise your legislator when he or
deserves if you stay focused. she votes the way you have asked or is
supportive of an issue.
HOW TO VISIT YOUR REPRESENTATIVE
Seeing your representative in person
is an excellent way to get your point across.
MAKE AN APPOINTMENT BE PREPARED
To contact your representative Know what you want to say.
write or call their local, county or Emphasize how the issue affects
state offices. you, your community, and your
Ask a staff member to arrange a state.
time and place either in their Present your views politely but
office at the capitol or in the persuasively.
legislator’s home district. Use relevant facts and research to
support your views.
Bring an expert on the subject to
support your views, if possible.
Send a thank-you letter to your representative and to the
staff member who helped arrange you visit.
Also include a summary of your position plus any other new
information that supports your views.
BEON TIME BE FIRM BE BRIEF LISTEN
Make certain you Find out exactly Since legislators CAREFULLY
reach your where your have extremely Be ready to answer
appointment on representative busy schedules, plan questions clearly.
time or a few stands on the issue. on getting your If you do not know
minutes early. Ask what action message across in 5 the answer, admit it
BE CONFIDENT he/she intends to minutes or less. Do and send the
Focus on the issue, take. Do not be not get side answer later.
express your afraid to press tracked into small Listen carefully to
enthusiasm and them for specifics. talk. Make your your
concern without time really count. representative’s
being overbearing. viewpoint, even if
OTHER WAYS YOU CAN EXPRESS YOUR VIEWS
INVITE YOUR VISIT STAFF TELEPHONE, LETTERS TO THE
REPRESENTATIVE MEMBERS E-MAIL, OR FAX EDITOR
TO VISIT YOU
Although staff If you need to get A short, well-
During a members don’t a message to your written letter to
congressional vote, they’re key representative the editor of a
recess, most people who can quickly, you can local newspaper
representatives give you valuable contact your gets your point
return to their information and representative’s across to
home districts to advice. office. members of
find out their Congress and to
constituents’ Treat them with other citizens.
views on the respect. By Letters to the
issues. developing a editor get lots of
cooperative attention because
Take advantage of relationship with legislators always
this opportunity staff members, keep tabs on news
to invite your you’ll be a more from the people
representative to effective back home.
your community. lobbyist.
Call or write his
or her district
office to arrange
a time and place
for the meeting.
SOME TIPS ON WRITING EFFECTIVE LETTERS:
Type your letter – not more than one page.
Draw on personal experience to support your views.
Don’t exaggerate your case.
Be firm, but not hostile. Your letter should reflect your sense of
Sign your name.
Designate a method for being contacted.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS….
Can expressing my
something done by
people with LOTS
Yes. Virtually every
law in this country is
Sure, some big
on the books because
some group of
have lots of money
to spend, and they
wanted it – and let
employ highly paid
know they wanted it.
elect legislators – Where can I
citizens do. That’s get MORE
why, as a citizen INFORMATION
efforts can make a about
Check the internet
GET INVOLVED TODAY!
As a grassroots lobbyist, you’ll be doing
your part to create a government that’s
truly “OF THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE, AND
FOR THE PEOPLE.”
Be informed on the issues.
Represent Oklahoma 4-H members to
Be ready to tell the 4-H story: personal, local,
county and state successes and experiences.
Tell the 4-H story: share history, purpose,
Know your facts about 4-H and the Oklahoma
Cooperative Extension Service
Help legislators understand the positive role 4-H
plays in Oklahoma communities.
Let your representatives in Congress know
Sell the 4-H program and gain support for 4-
H and OCES.
Have a positive and enthusiastic attitude.
Look the part (dress with pride) and wear a
Follow-up with a written thank-you for
their time, interest and support.
YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!
4-H…THE BIG PICTURE Source: Red Taxi Trainer’s Guide
WHAT IS 4-H? WHAT IS THE 4-H MISSION? combines the efforts of youth and
adult volunteer leaders, state land-
4-H is a dynamic, voluntary The mission of the 4-H Youth
grant universities, county and state
educational program primarily Development Education program is to
governments and the U.S. Department
conducted as an out-of-school learning provide experimental learning
of Agriculture (USDA).
experience for today’s young people. opportunities for culturally diverse
It opens doors by giving youngsters a youth and adults to reach their 4-H is a cooperative effort
wide range of opportunities to: supported through public funds at the
fullest potential, to develop skills
federal level by USDA Extension
Learn about and how to do that benefit them throughout life
Service, from the state level by the
interesting things. and fosters leadership and
land-grant university and at the county
Have fun with friends while volunteerism.
level by county budgets for Extension.
learning to do interesting things Achievement of this mission will 4-H is also supported from the private
like taking care of plants or result in capable, competent and sector—individuals, business,
animals, fixing a bicycle, working on caring citizens. foundations and grants—through the
a computer or sewing a garment. national 4-H Council and state 4-H
Make new friends, have fun, foundations. Local community and
WHAT DO 4-H’ERS DO?
discover and develop by learning school 4-H programs are supported
4-H members are involved in
skills to use now and in the future. through private funds. Private support
projects and activities. A 4-H project
Have a chance to try out new helps to expand and strengthen 4-H at
is a group of learning activities that 4-
abilities and feel valued. all levels.
H members do to learn about a topic.
Learn to care about ourselves and These topics might include such
others. things as farm animals and pets, WHAT IS THE 4-H TEAM AND
nutrition and cooking, bicycles,
In 4-H, young people learn about WHY?
computer, art, gardening and many
themselves and others through many Parents, relatives, neighbors and
other interests. There are many
activities that interest them. They others make 4-H happen by becoming
activities that provide learning
learn, with hands-on experiences, why volunteers. Those who work in 4-H do
experiences such as camping,
and how to do things. They also so as a team. Volunteers work directly
exhibiting projects, doing
acquire social skills, learn how to plan, and indirectly with youth. The
demonstrations and attending or
to make decisions, to communicate and volunteers want to
to value themselves as capable people. THE 4-H EMBLEM? help youth learn,
The 4-H emblem is a green four- and then apply their
leafed clover, with white H’s in newly developed
HOW DID 4-H BEGIN? trips or fairs.
each leaf. The green in the knowledge,
4-H began in the early 1890’s as 4-H members
emblem is nature’s most common attitudes and
the Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs. These clubs develop personal
color, and means life, springtime, values. 4-H
were formed in communities to help skills by
and youth. The white means volunteers create a
young people learn farming and participating. A 4- learning
homemaking skills. In 1914, Congress H’er can learn self- freshness and cleanliness. The
passed the Smith-Lever Act understanding, how four H’s stand for Head, Heart,
establishing the Cooperative Extension to get along with Hands, and Health.
system. 4-H Youth Development is the others, ways to is the 4-H way. Through 4-H, young
name given to Boys’ and Girls’ clubs communicate, make decisions and solve people who work with adults and older
when they became a part of the problems. They can learn how to youth can learn useful skills and can
Cooperative Extension System. This manage resources and discover how to serve their community and country by
System is a combination of the work well with others. 4-H’ers have an putting knowledge to work in real-life
Extension Service of the U.S. opportunity to develop leadership skills situations—even while they are
Department of Agriculture (USDA), 74 by participating in the program. young11. Young people learn skills and
land-grant universities and colleges in
gain knowledge through experiences—
the 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, the
inquiring, exploring, testing, problem-
Virgin Islands, American Samoa, WHO CONDUCTS 4-H? solving and discovering.
Micronesia, the District of Columbia, 4-H is conducted through the
and 3,150 County Extension Offices. Cooperative Extension System, and