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Advocacy FAQ’s

Contacting Your Elected Officials

First, you should have your talking points ready. This includes factual details about your issue and how it relates to you and (if applicable) your community. Health Action MA has a range of resources to help you craft your talking points. Home in on a couple of points that resonate with you the most and then practice on how you will express them.

From time-to-time we do issue time sensitive action items targeted toward specific elected officials with a call script to guide you.

Once you have called, introduce yourself, state the bills you are calling to oppose/support and explain why it matters to you and your community. Share your ideas for solutions and the kind of action you’d like to see taken. Ask the elected official how they feel about the issue and if they need you to follow up by providing additional information. Listen to their response and thank them for taking the time to talk.

Follow up with a thank you email or letter including your name, phone number, and address. Reiterate the key points from your meeting and close with a line that clearly states what you do or do not support.

When writing to your elected official, it’s important to include the same information you would in a phone call – your name, contact information, the bill you are writing for/against and the desired action you wish the legislator to take.

Begin your correspondence with your personal contact information and refer to the elected official by their correct title (Senator or Representative) and indicate that you are a constituent in their district.

The team at Health Action MA is happy to provide adaptable language and talking points that can be used or tailored to fit your letter perfectly. You’ll maximize your impact by including a story of how this topic personally affects you or someone close to you – legislators want to hear how proposed bills affect people in their districts, their voters! Letting them know what it means for people like yourself will help create real understanding and action.

End the letter or email by asking for a clear response to your query – what are their thoughts and opinions on the issue? Let them know you are happy to provide more information. And lastly, don’t forget to thank them for taking the time to listen.

Writing a Letter to the Editor

Research the outlet you want to submit your letter to. Most media outlets will have submission guidelines for letters to the editor, opinion pieces, and other forms of content. Familiarize yourself with the outlet’s editorial guidelines, word count, and any other specifics you may need to meet.

Consider responding to something that has recently been published in the outlet, such as a news story, column, or editorial. Your letter can support and expand on the story, make a point that was omitted, or disagree with and correct misinformation in whatever form it appeared.

Crafting a persuasive letter requires an attention-grabbing introduction and concise, impactful wording. Personalize your argument by sharing experiences or detailing how the issue impacts you personally and others. To ensure credibility, be sure to include accurate information and cite sources when possible. Whenever voicing criticism of something specific, provide constructive solutions for improvement in its place!

Once you are ready to submit, check the submission guidelines to ensure you are sending to the correct address for consideration to be published.

You’ve taken the bold step of submitting a letter – now is your chance to share it with the world! Celebrate when it’s accepted, and don’t be disheartened if not. Persevere by adjusting the writing, then submit to another outlet or explore new options.

Submitting Testimony on a Bill

A bill must go through a meticulous legislative process to become an official law. Legislative joint committees, consisting of both the House and Senate, hold public hearings to discuss and vote on proposed bills – offering citizens a chance to voice their position before committee members cast their votes. Submitting testimony on a bill is just one way to have your voice heard in government.

Your testimony is highly valued during this critical stage as it can highlight negative implications of problematic legislation or conversely, promote the beneficial impacts of positive bill proposals. Your testimony will help shape the opinions of committee members by providing clarification on the issue at hand and ultimately whether a bill should pass or fail.

To learn more about the legislative process visit our ‘How a Bill Becomes a Law’ page.

Health Action MA is committed to keeping citizens informed on upcoming legislative developments through actionable calls. Our team provides essential information for any scheduled public testimony hearing, such as important dates, times, locations, committee information, virtual hearing links, details on the specific bills being heard, where to send your written testimony and more

How to Prepare Your Testimony

Testimony can be given in two ways, verbally (in person or online) and written.

Hearings during the 2023/2024 legislative session will occur both in person and virtually. Verbal testimonies must be short and not exceed 3 minutes. As a general rule, testimonies should be delivered verbally and also submitted in writing; however, if you are not comfortable delivering testimony verbally you may do so in written form.

When planning your testimony, it’s paramount to check all the bills being heard that day. Typically bills similar in issue are heard on the same day and therefore you want to ensure you are using your testimony time to voice for/against all bills that impact you and your family.

You may submit written testimony to the committee at any time prior to their vote; however, we strongly recommend submission immediately after the public hearings. Testimonies can be as long or as short as you wish. Some individuals choose to submit just their 3-minute verbal testimony in written form, while others expand on their testimony providing a deeper dive into the issues/benefits raised. Check out our resources section for bill specific talking points to help you craft your testimony.

Testimony can be given in person, virtually or submitted in written form. Health Action MA will alert citizens on where/how to testify for the online and in person hearings and provide guidance on how to submit written testimony to the committee members.

Meeting with Your Legislators

Meeting with your own State Representatives and Senators and building relationships with them, is one of the most important action steps you can take in advocacy. State Reps and Senators want to hear from constituents in their district…. the people who can vote them in or out! Relationship building can take time. Find other issues that you do agree on, such as bills they have presented and you support, create a common ground.

Our goal is to meet with all legislators and engage in respectful and non-confrontational dialogue. By doing this we create an environment that is optimal for education and a willingness to understand and learn more.

While it may seem intimidating, Health Action MA is here to help you prepare and plan a successful meeting. From drafting talking points to setting agendas, our team will guide you through the process.

Find your legislator here.

During the advocacy process there may be a need to meet with other elected officials, in addition to your own State Rep or Senator, for example, a meeting with an elected official who sits on a committee where our bills will be heard. Meeting with legislators is a great way to have your voice heard and build relationships with key decision-makers.

While it may seem intimidating, Health Action MA is here to help you prepare and plan a successful meeting. From drafting talking points to setting agendas, our team will guide you through the process.

Find your legislator here.

Prior to your meeting, research your legislator and become familiar with their stance on the issue. Additionally, create a script or check list for yourself that includes key points about the bill you are advocating for or against. This ensures you are hitting all of your key points and using your time more effectively.

Once the meeting begins, remember that your main goal is to persuade the legislator to take action – such as co-sponsoring a positive bill or committing to voting against a negative bill.

Offer tangible evidence and your own experiences to substantiate these facts and your stories. Demonstrate the effect this issue will have on the policymaker’s hometown constituency, specifically children. Be pliable, take notes, and remain focused on the topic at hand.

Allow for inquiries, but only answer them if you’re certain of an answer – instead, offer to provide accurate details later..

Health Action MA can lend support by providing data sheets that can be highly beneficial during meetings with policymakers. Visit our resources page for meeting materials .

To ensure a thorough understanding of your message, jot down any queries or worries expressed by the legislator.

Remember to send a quick thank-you note or email reiterating your core point, reminding them of any promises they made during the meeting, provide any follow-up materials requested by the legislator and finally, thank them for the opportunity to discuss such an important issue.

Lastly, inform the Health Action MA leadership about how it went and encourage friends to do the same. Give yourself a pat on the back and feel proud! You just advocated for yourself, your family and our community.

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