As citizens and business owners, we have an obligation to participate in governing our communities, state, and nation. If you’re wondering how to get involved in the decisions that impact your business or organization, we offer 5 ways to better understand how the state legislature works.
Our firm, Orbis Advantage, Inc., is most involved in the public affairs arena with the Wyoming State legislature. These tips also apply to local and national government.
Step 1. Introduce yourself to your representatives and senators.
You have probably heard the saying, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” In the case of the state legislature, it is important to introduce yourself to the people who are elected to represent you. To find out who is your legislator or their contact information, search the legislative service office website.
In the political process, both who you know and what you know are important. Legislators value the opinions of their constituents.
Step 2. Identify the issues that interest you or impact your business or organization.
A good place to start is reading interim topics being studied by interim committees. In the interim – the period between sessions – the standing committees in the Senate and the House of Representatives merge to form joint interim committees.
Beginning in May, joint committees of Representatives and Senators meet to hear presentations from state agencies and other stakeholders about potential changes to statutes that are needed. These standing committees can sponsor bills in the next session. The website of the legislative service office has a list of standing committees, membership, and meeting information.
Step 3. Subscribe to receive email updates from the legislative service office.
On the home page Wyoming Legislative Service office (www.wyoleg.gov), you’ll see a pop-up box with the instructions, “Sign up to receive the latest updates from the Wyoming Legislature.” You can select which committees you wish to receive email or text updates of meeting notices, minutes and materials.
Step 4. Join advocacy groups to receive news, updates and provide input.
Various industry groups monitor legislative activities and inform their members about policies that impact their businesses. Industry associations develop ongoing relationships with elected officials and government agencies to lobby on behalf of their members.
Step 5. Observe legislative meetings.
While there are many resources available to learn about the political process, the best way to learn is through observation. The Wyoming legislature broadcasts meetings on their YouTube channel. Also, the public is able to attend committee meetings at locations throughout the state and at the Capitol during the legislative session.
If you visit the Wyoming Capitol when the legislature is in session, my colleague Annie Wood or I would be happy to point you in the right direction or answer any questions.
Preparation is key to effective advocacy
The key to effective advocacy is thorough preparation to offer meaningful information at the right time to the appropriate audience.
Our team at Orbis lobbies for education, economic development and agriculture issues. Services we offer our clients, such as the Wyoming Association for Career and Technical Association and the Wyoming Economic Development Association, include:
- Provide input on project plans and informational materials e.g., fact sheets, website copy, newsletters, brochures, display copy, letters.
- Attend committee meetings and track legislation through both chambers.
- Prompt clients when to contact legislators.
- Report legislative updates.
- Prepare testimony.
- Develop ongoing legislative and public policy strategy.
Ready to engage?
These 5 steps are just the beginning. If you’re ready to continue your journey, Orbis can assist with developing public affairs outreach plans or position papers. We also offer workshops about engaging in the political process and advocacy.