What you should know about

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					What you should know about

  Influencing
  Legislation
                 What is
                                                          It is what concerned
            GRASSROOTS                                  Americans do to Influence
             LOBBYING?                                   Legislators’ Decisions on
                                                              today’s issues.



Grassroots lobbying involves:


                                  KNOWING THE
                                  FACTS about an
                                  issue that
                                  concerns you.


                                                     CONTACTING   YOUR
                                                     ELECTED OFFICIALS  by
                                                     letter, telephone or
                                                     personal visit.


                                                          PRESENTING
                                                          YOUR VIEWPOINT
                                                          to your elected
                                                          representatives.




  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?



                                         2
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
     elected officials.



      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
                                       and
                                       influence
                                       the
                                       future of
                                       your
                 grievances.”          government.




             As a consumer, taxpayer and citizen,
             you’ve got the power. You can use it
                effectively – if you know how.



                                   3
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.



                                                4
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.
the issue.




                                           5
HOW TO WRITE YOUR REPRESENTATIVE
              They depend on letters from you to tell them how to vote.

BE CONFIDENT
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.


SOME TIPS
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
                                                 namecall.
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.



                                             6
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.


                      FOLLOW   UP!
                      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.


SOME TIPS
     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
                                                                           you disagree.




                                                7
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.
         Be concise.
         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
          conviction.
         Sign your name.
         Designate a method for being contacted.

                                         8
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS….

    Isn’t lobbying
                            Can expressing my
  something done by
                              opinions really
   people with LOTS
                                 MAKE A
       OF   MONEY?
                              DIFFERENCE?



                             Yes. Virtually every
                             law in this country is
  Sure, some big
                             on the books because
  interest groups
                             some group of
  have lots of money
                             interested citizens
  to spend, and they
                             wanted it – and let
  employ highly paid
                             their government
  professional
                             know they wanted it.
  lobbyists. But
  professional
  lobbyists don’t
  elect legislators –        Where can I
  citizens do. That’s         get MORE
  why, as a citizen          INFORMATION
  lobbyist, your
  efforts can make a             about
  difference.                  Congress?


                            Check the internet
                            or library.




                        9
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
        legislators.
       Be ready to tell the 4-H story: personal, local,
        county and state successes and experiences.
       Tell the 4-H story: share history, purpose,
        and programs.
       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
your views.
       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
        nametag.


Follow-up with a written thank-you for
their time, interest and support.


        YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

                                       10
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
                                            participating in
to value themselves as capable people.                                THE 4-H EMBLEM?                         help youth learn,
                                            workshops,
                                                                      The 4-H emblem is a green four-         and then apply their
                                            conferences, tours,
                                                                      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
                                                                                                              environment that
passed the Smith-Lever Act                  understanding, how        four H’s stand for Head, Heart,
                                                                                                              stimulates growth.
establishing the Cooperative Extension      to get along with         Hands, and Health.
                                                                                                                   Learn-by Doing
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
                                                               11

				
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