When Your Legislator Says No

Date and Time:
Saturday, October 31, 1:05PM-2:05PM

Facilitator: Benjamin Day, Healthcare-NOW!

Description: Having an effective legislative strategy is crucial for any group fighting to win single-payer health reform at the state or national level (or both!). This workshop focuses on one aspect of an effective legislative strategy: having a plan for increasing legislators' level of support for single-payer legislation when simple requests have failed. Participants should leave the workshop being able to rate their legislators' level of support, to recognize pushback from legislators and respond to the pushback without de-escalating their demands, and to have a plan for escalating tactics to move reluctant legislators to a higher level of support without alienating them.

Notes from Conference Participants:

Use objective measures to rate the level of support of your legislator (e.g., co-sponsoring bill, going out and speaking for SP, mentioning SP in their newsletter/website/email, lets you educate their staff, progressive voting record, saying in private they support SP, etc.

We laid out a system with 5 levels of support, and agreed only legislators in the top 3 were worth focusing attention on. (I hope Ben or someone will put this in the Wiki; it was his workshop)

Starting premise: there no good reason not to support a bill that will save lives and money

Build a book of pushback, rated as substantive or evasive, and polite responses to each. Engage them on the substantive ones. On evasive ones, focus on why it’s important to you, or to x number of voters in this district.

Specific tactics (which one you use should depend on where the legislator is on the scale)
- escalation strategy
- use stories of their constituents
- consistent presence in capitol
- community meetings in their district – need large crowd – at end, ask legislator to co-sponsor bill
- legislative roundtable (you moderate)
- online petition
- targeted online ads
- add SP question on union PAC questionnaires
- have a broad-based coalition
- have supporters of the legislator in your group, so he/she has something at stake

Use tactics you’re good at and find districts where it might work.

At County and City level, work to pass Resolutions – goal is to raise political awareness and will, show advantages of SP, get media attention (need to work at that)
- send copies of the resolution to state legislature saying this is important to people, we need you to sign on

Slideshows, Photos, and Video:

Download the Facilitator's Guide for the "When Your Legislator Says No" workshop.

Download the Work Sheet for "When Your Legislator Says No"

Criteria for rating legislators:
Common pushback (excuses) from legislators to supporting single payer healthcare legislation:
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