Meetings at the State Capital
During the legislative session, legislators can often be found in their offices or around the legislative building. These offices are staffed with people whose jobs revolve around communicating with constituents like you. There are fewer barriers to stopping by and developing relationships with the Senator or Representative's staff. In fact, these staff members would welcome you! Elected officials depend on their staff to keep a finger on the pulse of what's happening in the district and advise them on local issues. In some instances meetings may occur in the hallway or on a walk between committee meetings. In those cases it is important to have a clear concise message and examples to share regarding ACR priorities.
If you are planning a trip to the state capitol, reach out to your legislator’s office to schedule a meeting and begin building your relationships to advance rheumatology. Remember to follow up with an acknowledgement after the meeting.
Meetings in the Community
Most state legislatures are not in session all year and traveling to the state capitol is not always logistically possible. Consider attending a local event that will include elected officials or offer to host them at your office and provide a tour of your facility or practice.
ACR’s easy State Advocacy Guide can also be helpful for state legislative meetings. This guide also includes:
- Process to schedule a meeting
- Sample meeting request email
- Sample thank you email
Contact Your Elected Officials
Phone. Calling your elected officials is one of the easiest ways to bring the issues of your practice, patients, and the rheumatology community to their attention. In many cases you can simply provide your name, address, and support or objection to a specific bill. Legislative staff compiles a report for members on calls received. We need the tally to be in our favor so your call makes a difference even if it is brief.
Email. Email is another quick and effective method of getting your message to your elected officials. Use your state’s legislative website to access member emails and make sure to personalize your message.
Letters. Letters are an important and effective way to introduce yourself and tell your legislator your stance on multiple issues. Short, handwritten letters are best and make sure to include your full address so they know you live in their district.
Social Media. Most elected officials are now on Facebook and Twitter, and monitor social media interactions very closely. Reach out to your member about an important issue by “tagging” them or posting on their sites. Be sure to also follow ACR on Facebook and Twitter (@ACRheumDC) to see what is trending and repost messages.
Submit a Letter to the Editor
Elected officials and government entities make decisions every day that directly affect your practice and ability to treat patients. While we at ACR continue to be your eyes and ears in Washington, often the most effective agents of change are citizens, like yourself, getting involved in the legislative process.
It’s easy to be an advocate for the rheumatology community with our tools. Our Legislative Action Center highlights the latest and most relevant issues and makes it easy to contact legislators with your concerns. There are also tools to look up your elected officials and find out where your representative stands on important legislation.
Our campaign to fund an arthritis research program through the Department of Defense has an option of sending a letter to the Editor of your local paper. If your letter is published, it is extremely likely that the members of Congress in your area will become more aware of this important issue. For information and tips on how to send a letter to the Editor of your newspaper, check out our guide, How to Write a Letter to the Editor.