DC 101 A Newcomer's Orientation

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					DC 101: Newcomers’ Orientation

2009 Legislative Conference March 9, 2009 Washington, DC

Purpose of Conference
• Educate NACAC members about advocacy • Prepare NACAC members for year-round advocacy • Educate lawmakers about NACAC priorities • Provide education and training opportunities on federal issues for participants

Highlights of Past Successes
• 2000: 60% increase in GEAR UP funding; only the program’s second year
• 2002: Inclusion of school counselors as eligible participants in professional development under No Child Left Behind (NCLB) • 2003: Increased funding for GEAR UP and TRIO, when all other student aid was level-funded • 2007: Passage of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act • 2008: Introduction of the Pathways to College Act

How a Bill Becomes a Law
• All bills and amendments must be sponsored by a member of Congress • Bills have many opportunities for amendments, and many opportunities to fail • Bipartisan support usually helps; in recent Congresses it has been essential • Presidential vetoes are rare, but usually hard to override

Legislative Math
• 535 members of the House and Senate = several thousand bills and amendments in any given session • A given member of Congress can work on approximately 100 bills and amendments • There are probably 10 bills they really care about • The likelihood that our issue is among that 10 is very slim – unless we bring it to their attention!

How Lobbying Works
• You are the Expert • as a professional: you are an expert on college access • as a constituent: you are an expert on your community • Lawmakers Need You • elected officials work for you • lawmakers depend on constituents and advocates to learn about emerging issues or problems • lawmakers are held accountable for how well they deal with the needs and wants of constituents

How Lobbying Works
• Where Politics Affect Policy • the process of seeking and retaining office impacts policymaking • know the politics of an issue • your status as a voter gives you power • Taking Action • communication often yields results • use your NACAC Advocacy Handbook to get organized and to help brainstorm ideas!

Visiting With Lawmakers
Preparation • Be familiar with conference materials • Dress professionally • Carry business cards • Remember your status as an expert, a constituent, and a voter • You represent other citizens – students, educators, parents • Be aware of your schedule

Visiting With Lawmakers
Protocol • Be organized, prompt, and brief • Courteously handle the unexpected • Know your audience • Assume nothing • Quickly get to the “who” and “why” • Don’t be confrontational • Tell your personal story, but stick to what is relevant • Say thank you – and follow up in writing

Visiting With Lawmakers
Making Your Point • Introduce yourself and present your materials • Organize for group vs. individual presentation • Discuss Pathways to College Act • Feel free to discuss all of NACAC’s policy principles if time permits • Respond to differing viewpoints • Offer yourself and NACAC staff as resources • Bring meeting to a close

Visiting With Lawmakers
Follow Up • Send a thank you letter to the member of Congress and staff person

• Exchange business cards with staff; encourage them to call you or to call NACAC staff with questions
• Fill out debriefing form for NACAC staff

• Follow up with further correspondence – keep in touch!

• Refer to map in Congressional Guide • See “Getting Around Capitol Hill” in your registration folders

• Capitol Police are there to help if you get lost
• Meet with your state’s delegation to plan for Tuesday visits and debriefing

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