Self-Advocacy: Sharing Your Story With Your Legislators Transcript
Self-Advocacy: Sharing Your Story With Your Legislators Video
Idaho Self-Advocate Leadership Network (ISALN)
(Shiloh) Welcome to "Sharing Your Story With Your Legislators," brought to you by the Idaho Self-Advocate Leadership Network. In collaboration with the Center on Disabilities and Human Development, and the Self-Advocacy Resource and Technical Assistance Center. I'm Shiloh Blackburn. I'll be guiding you through this training today.
The purpose of this training is to learn how to find your legislators, how to contact your legislators, how to testify at the Capitol, the do's and don'ts when visiting the Capitol, and to have fun at the Capitol.
Four key words to remember are:
A legislative district is a division of land, like a county, or parts of a city, marked off for administrative, electoral, or other purposes.
A Senator is someone who is a member of a state's senate or the United States Senate. A senate is the smaller assembly or council of people in the legislative branch of our states' and national government.
A Representative is a person who represents a community in the U.S. House of Representatives, or a lower house in certain state legislatures.
Partisan is when a person supports a certain cause, like protecting endangered wildlife, a group such as ADAPT, which promotes disability rights, or a political party, such as the Democrats or Republicans.
Finding out who your legislators are can be easy. You can Google your state's legislative website, and find the link that says "Who are my legislators?" Put in your address or other requested info to find your legislators. If you need help, ask your family or friends.
When you find your legislators, you will be given information about them, like their name, the district they serve in, and where they're from, and where they live.
The information will also tell you a brief life history about them, their family, what job they have in their home town, how long they've served as a legislator, and the committees they serve on.
This slide is an example of an email you might send to your legislators. In this example, I talked about supporting the Idaho Health Care Plan. Your name and email goes on the "From" line. The legislator's name and email goes on the "To" line. On the "Subject" line, you'll put the topic you want to talk about. Then in the email itself you will say "Dear Senator (or Representative) My name is...." and then you would put your name. And then you would say "I live in..." whatever town or city you live in. Next, very briefly explain what you are concerned about, and why it matters to you. Ask him or her to carefully think about the issue and depending on the outcome you want, to either support or oppose the issue. Thank them and close the email with "Sincerely, (your name)."
If you find talking on the phone easier, you can call your legislators. You can call them at your state's capitol when they're meeting together, or you can call them at home when they're not in session. You can find their phone numbers on your state's legislative website. If you need help, ask a friend or family member. Sometimes you'll have to leave a message for them.
When speaking with your legislators on the phone, share your story! Say something like: "Hello Senator (or Representative), my name is...." then say your name. "I live in...." then say your city or town. Ask them how they are doing. Say "I would like to talk to you about..." then share your topic or issue. Tell your legislators why the issue matters to you.
Remember to keep your story short and to the point. Ask your legislators if they will support or oppose the issue. Thank them for their time. Ask if they have any questions for you. It is okay not to know the answer. Tell them if they would like, you will find out the information for them.
How to testify at the Capitol. Legislators want to hear from you, and those living in their home towns. Tell them how a bill will affect you, your family, and friends. Remember, they like to hear your story. Your story can help them make better decisions.
There are things you shouldn't do at the Capitol. Don't be partisan. Talking bad about a cause, a group, or a political party you don't agree with could cause an argument with another person, or legislator. You could hurt your chance of being heard. Don't express anger or threaten anybody. Don't criticize or insult other people or the legislators.
Don't question why somebody else said or did something. Don't exaggerate or make up stories. Don't continue speaking when the legislator says your time is up. Remember they are very busy and have meetings and other people to see. But, know that it is okay to not know the answer to the problem or a question.
When testifying remember to say "Good morning (or good afternoon) Madame Chair (or Chairman) and Members of the Committee." Say "Thank you for your time." Use your story or experience to make a point. Say "I urge you to support or oppose this issue. I am willing to answer any questions you might have. Thanks for listening to me."
Sharing your story with legislators is important. Your story can help your community be a better place. Help create a better tomorrow for everyone!
Thank you for visiting! I hope you enjoyed the training. If you would like to view more trainings and learn more about self-advocacy, and other related topics, please visit idahocdhd.org/isaln.