Committees & Advisory Boards: Legislative Hotline

SUGGESTIONS FOR CONSTRUCTING THE HOTLINE:

1. Obtain the latest chapter membership list. Arrange the membership listing by postal zip codes of members’ work place to reduce the number of multi-message unit phone calls. List the name of only one chapter member at each work location. This person will contact all other members at the same location.

2. Each person on the Hotline should call three other people on the list. The last person on the list should be instructed to call the Regional Director to verify that all necessary calls have been made.

GUIDELINES FOR HOTLINE OPERATION:

1. Whenever time permits, a written communication about a legislative position the chapter should take will be e-mailed to the membership or distributed at the next general meeting.

2. When time does not permit, a telephone or fax network will be used in the following manner:

A. The State Legislative Chairman will telephone or fax the chapter president, giving the President the bill number, subject, the Association’s position on the bill, the name of the committee or legislative body considering the bill, and the hearing dates, if any. For clarity, the message should be written down and repeated to the caller. Each person receiving a Hotline call should also write the message down and ask the caller questions if the message is not clear.

B. The President will telephone, fax or e-mail the Regional Directors.

C. The Regional Directors will notify the chapter’s legislative committee who will notify the other members of the committee, who will place calls to chapter members who, in turn, will call other members per the Hotline and also will notify their co-workers who are members. The last person contacted via the Hotline will contact the Legislative Chairman to verify that all calls have been made. Each Regional Director should contact the State Legislative Chairman verifying completion of the Hotline.

D. All Hotline calls should be made as quickly as possible (the entire Hotline must be contacted and appropriate action taken within 24 hours or less). If persons on the Hotline are not available due to illness, vacation, etc., their calls should be made for them by the person responsible for contacting the absent member.

3. Each year the chapter legislative committee should supply the following information to each chapter member:

A. A list of names, office addresses, and telephone numbers of the members of the state legislature and members of the US Congress.

B. A memorandum of tips on how to write, faxes, e-mail or telegraph effective messages to legislators.

C. The complete Hotline based on the current chapter membership list.

4. There should be a chapter budget for chapter officers’ phone calls, faxes, telegrams, etc., when needed for legislative matters.

5. Each member of the chapter should be asked to determine in which state representative and US Congressional district they live, so they can quickly contact their legislators when necessary.

METHODS OF COMMUNICATION:

1. Use the following tips when contacting elected officials. Remember that our profession is dependent on public funding. Legislative action on the part of all members is necessary to inform elected officials of the role, importance, needs, and view of school food service. Legislators appreciate communication from those within their congressional district. These communications let them know what the voters would like them to do. Legislators are particularly sensitive to a large volume of calls or mail on one subject.

A. Legislators have offices both in their district and in the state capitol or Washington, DC.

B. When a letter, fax, e-mail or telegram is sent to them, it is cheaper and faster to send written messages to the Washington office (or state capitol). When time is important, a phone call to the legislator’s local office may be helpful. Calling the local office is fast and inexpensive.

C. Phone or write to your own legislator about a bill, unless the bill is due for an important committee vote. Then phone or write to the chairman of the committee, with a copy to your legislator. Each piece of legislation goes before several committees and is often amended and voted on several times; therefore, you may be asked to make several contacts with your legislators on the same bill as it passes through the legislative process.

D. When you write, it is important to keep your letter short, legible, clear and on one subject. Try not to use a form letter. Use your own words. Sign your name legibly. Type or print your name and address under your signature. Do NOT use school district stationery.

E. Identify the bill by number, title and subject.

F. Be reasonable and constructive in your approach; suggest alternatives; and don’t be abusive, sarcastic, or threatening. Don’t start the letter with “As a taxpayer and citizen.” Most of us fit into those categories.

G. Don’t forget to thank legislators for their votes. Visit them when they are in their local offices or when you are at the capitol. If they are particularly helpful, contribute to their campaign funds.

2. Personal Opinion Message -Western Union provides a special telegram service called POM (personal opinion message). You can send a POM telegram of 20 words or less to any elected official at their Washington office. District office headquarters are not included in this special service. A POM will be delivered within hours from the time of order. Merely call your local Western Union office to place your POM order. The message will be sent immediately and you will be billed by mail. Also available are night letters and mail grams (telegrams put into US mail at their destination city). Verify costs with your Western Union office. If your city has no local Western Union office, call 1-800-648-41 DO, toll free, at any time or day of the week to send telegrams.


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