FastFred's Motorcycle Rights E-zine: Biker Rights, Events, Articles, and Pictures
Helmet Law Map | Articles | Photos | Product Reviews | Patches and Stickers | Links | Join Ezine

Organizing Effective Lobbying Teams Workshop


Organizing effective lobbying teams requires adequate infrastructure and a lobbying plan.  Teams form the infrastructure of your lobbying campaign.  The infrastructure has two broad categories of district yet interdependent teams, management and functional teams that enable the effective planning, organization, and implementation of your campaign.  The lobbying plan explains how to gain support and minimize opposition.  It helps maximize the use of your resources to increase the likelihood of success.

Organizing Effective Lobbying Teams

  1. The infrastructure
    The infrastructure has two broad categories of district yet interdependent teams, management and functional teams that enable the effective planning, organization, and implementation of your campaign.  Teams form the infrastructure of your lobbying campaign. The size of your organization will determine the number of individuals available to serve on each team.  Small organizations may find it necessary to combine team functions and work with other associations.
    1. Management Team
      The first team to organize is the management team.  It is suggested that the management team be comprised of persons from each interest group within your organization.  This is responsible for strategic planning, decision-making, overall project management.  This team will organize the project and appoint members to the functional teams.
    2. Lobbying Team
      The lobbying team is composed of your organization’s members and the contract lobbyist, if any.  The management team assigns broad legislative goals to the lobbying team.  The lobbying team lobbies lawmakers and staff, supporters, and opponents face-to-face, attending and testifying in committee hearings, and monitoring the activities of lawmakers, supporters, and opponents throughout the life of the bill.
    3. Bill Manager
      The bill manager chairs the lobbying team.  The bill manager is responsible for overseeing day-to-day activities of the lobbying effort.  The bill manager coordinates the grass roots lobbying activities of the members of the organization.  The bill manager is the designated contact for the organization’s contract lobbyist if one is used.  The bill manager provides feedback to the management team about the bill’s progress so that changes can be made in policy or resource allocation, if needed.  Another important responsibility is assuring the organization meets the legislature’s ethical requirements.
    4. Drafting Team
      The drafting team is another functional team that writes the bill and supporting information that will be given to the legislature.  It is suggested that drafting team members all write clearly and can understand legal requirements.  The initial supporting information and committee testimony will be drafted prior to bill introduction and revised, as needed.
    5. Bill Historian
      An important member of the drafting team is the bill historian.  This position requires a detailed-oriented person who records and is able to explain all actual and proposed changes in bill language following its publication to interest groups and introduction into the legislature.  As the bill advances through the legislative process there will be proposed and actual changes in its language and concepts.  The historian must be able to explain all changes to those who inquire so that you do not appear to be dishonest or incompetent if asked about differences among successive drafts.
  2. Lobbying Plan
    The lobbying plan explains how to gain support and minimize opposition.  It helps maximize the use of your resources to increase the likelihood of success.  When you assess political strength you consider the difference between internal and external factors.  Consider the following elements when developing a lobbying plan: people, cost and benefits, timing, place, campaign contributions, communication with the media, avoiding unnecessary conflicts, and maintaining confidentiality.
    1. People
      Identify those persons that can impact your effort as you design the lobby plan.  These will include prospective sponsors and co-sponsors, members of committees of referral, and your bill’s likely supporters and opponents inside and outside the legislature.  As you identify each one, consider why each might support or oppose you based on your relationships and the language and ideas in your bill.

                                                              i.      Identify executive agencies that might be lobbied to gain political support for your bill.  The legislature will give considerable attention to the recommendations from experts within these agencies.

                                                            ii.      Special interest groups may be found as corporations, associations, and local governments.  It is suggested that you predict which special interest groups may oppose your bill for substantive or political reasons.  Locate potential supporters and find ways to actively involve them in supporting your bill.  Look for nontraditional allies for your issue; think broadly and creatively when considering alliances with others.

                                                          iii.      Constituents are critical to success.  In each district, identify those who can be mobilized to visit a lawmaker, organize a letter writing campaign, develop a phone tree, or use other methods to generate contacts with their lawmaker.

    1. Cost and benefits
      Assess the financial, political, social, and personal costs to your organization, the supporters and opponents of your goals, legislators, and others.  List the benefits of your legislation and then compare the benefits to the probable costs.  Try to identify the amount of lobbying needed to maintain support and estimate the cost and benefit associated with each new alliance.  You will want to draft your bill to minimize costs and maximize benefits for all that will be affected should your bill become law.  Most bills benefit one group more than others.
    2. Timing
      Often the success of a legislative effort is dependent upon timing.  An ill-timed legislative effort may fail despite a meritorious concept.  Consider the following questions:

                                                              i.      Can this legislation wait until next year?

                                                            ii.      Would this legislation advance more readily in another year?

                                                          iii.      Will this year’s allies still be in office or otherwise able to support you next year?

                                                           iv.      When should lobbying begin?

                                                             v.      Is there adequate time to meet critical dates, procedural milestones, and political timelines?

                                                           vi.      Are the other time-related conditions, such as deadlines for making campaign contributions that must be considered?

    1. Place
      Before taking your bill to the state or federal legislature consider where the best or easiest place might be to obtain precedent-setting legislation. 
    2. Campaign contributions
      Will campaign contributions be part of your lobbying plan?  On a member-by-member basis determine how your support of a legislator’s re-election campaign will garner goodwill.  If you need support of legislators with whom your organization has no constituent interests, campaign contributions may improve access.  However legislators have the greatest interest in constituents, especially those who make campaign contributions.  Contributions whether in cash or labor show a lawmaker that you are a member of his team.
    3. Communication with the media
      Consider how to use the media to promote your bill.  Develop press releases that explain the identity of your organizations, its members, and its lobbying goals.  Select articulate, credentialed, or well-known members of your organization to represent you to the media.  Your issue may suffer from media attention if it brings unwanted interest from opposition groups.  However favorable attention may help you overcome the opposition and increase your membership.
    4. Avoiding unnecessary conflicts
      It is suggested that associations ensure that its legislative goals and activities do not unnecessarily conflict with those of its members or allied organizations.  Your members or allied organizations often have legislative agendas unrelated to the issue advocated by the association.  Lobbying efforts need to be coordinated to avoid sending conflicting messages to the legislature.
    5. Maintaining confidentiality
      Maintain confidentiality about your lobbying plan.
    6. Conducting legislative research
    7. Internet research
    8. Drafting your propose bill

                                                              i.      Do existing laws already accomplish some of what you desire?

                                                            ii.      Is it better to amend an existing law or create an entirely new act?

                                                          iii.      Should the bill be drafted as a stand-alone or free-standing bill or should it be drafted to pass as an amendment to another bill?

                                                           iv.      Can you draft the bill to relate to the themes of the forthcoming legislative session?

                                                             v.      Can you draft the bill to decrease the likelihood of referral to unfriendly committees or too many committees?

                                                           vi.      Once enacted, will this law create conflicts with existing law or produce unintended results?

                                                         vii.      Have the constitutional and statutory limitations and court precedents on legislation been observed?

                                                       viii.      Are the provisions of the bill integrated with existing law?

                                                           ix.      Is the use of words consistent with the language in existing statutes?

                                                             x.      Are the titles of public officers, agencies, and institutions scanned correctly?

                                                           xi.      Does the bill embrace only one subject?

                                                         xii.      Is the title an appropriate expression of the subject of the legislation?

                                                       xiii.      Is each distinct part of the bill a separate section?

                                                       xiv.      Is the enacting clause in proper form?

                                                         xv.      Are amended sections of existing laws set forth in full?

                                                       xvi.      Are all conflicting laws repealed by chapter and verse?

                                                     xvii.      Are references to the statutes accurate?

                                                   xviii.      Does the bill need an effective date that differs from the date specified by the state constitution?

                                                       xix.      Should provisions within the bill become effective at different times?

                                                         xx.      Is a state appropriation needed to implement the bill?

                                                       xxi.      Should the appropriation be placed in this bill or in the annual general appropriations bill?

                                                     xxii.      How will funding he continued over time?

                                                   xxiii.      Will the law be enforceable? How and by whom?

                                                    xxiv.      Is the style of the bill clear and the language understandable?

                                                      xxv.      Can the bill be shortened, simplified, or made more clear?

    1. Drafting the bill yourself
    2. Drafting the supporting information
  1. How to be an effective team member and biker lobbyist.
    1. Why Lobby?
      To make biker rights a reality, you must convince legislators that your position makes sense. Visiting a legislator is an essential tactic for furthering your campaign. Lobby visits can be made on the local, state, or national level, depending on the particular issue you are supporting. A lobby visit can be an incredibly rewarding experience, and all bikers should meet with their elected officials to discuss motorcyclist rights issues.
    2. Be Prepared
      Know the issue.
    3. Prepare Position Papers
      Gather your facts and organize them into a one sided (two, only if absolutely necessary) page fact sheet. This will be the form that you will hand in to your representatives. Remember to be as concise as possible.
    4. Make an Appointment
      It is always a good idea to make an appointment to be sure that the appropriate people will be in the office. Remember, staffers and members have busy schedules. If you just show up, you will most likely only get to drop off your materials with a front-desk administrator who probably will not be able to discuss your issue. You can easily find your representatives contact info using your zip code online.
    5. Before the Visit
      Dress appropriately for your visit or in other words wear your leather. When you wear leather not only do the legislators you visit know you were there and why but so do all the other legislators who see you walking the halls. Bring extra copies of your fact sheets. Check the status of the bill that you are lobbying, and find out who has co-sponsored it. If possible, try and form a delegation by bringing friends who are also from your district. If they are not from your district, you have no obligation to divulge this fact if you are not asked, but also do NOT lie if asked.
    6. Visit the Bill's Sponsor
      If you are lobbying for a particular piece of legislation, it is a good idea to call or visit the bill's sponsor before lobbying. They usually will be very eager to assist you in reaching the right members and will offer input on ways to present the issue.
    7. The Opening of Your Visit
      It is important to be as relaxed as possible during your visit. Expect to be a little nervous. If you have a delegation with you, choose a primary speaker based on familiarity with the issue and speaking skills. Introduce yourself to your representatives or their legislative aides (LAs). Let them know what bill or issue you are interested in, how you feel about the bill, and how it will affect you. Try to make this part as clear and concise as possible.
    8. Answer Only Questions That You Know
      Answer questions and offer your side of a stance. If you do not know an answer, tell your representative that you will get back to them. NEVER make up an answer. If you give out incorrect information, you will eliminate the credibility of yourself . Offering to get back to them also offers you a chance to re-familiarize them with your topic.
    9. Don't Get Mean
      After discussing the issue, if your representative or LA does not give you an answer that you want to hear politely thank them for their time, let them know that you still hold your position, urge them to reconsider, and politely leave. Do not get argumentative. Remember LAs and representatives are people, too, and may hold their stance more rigidly if you are unreasonable with them. No one likes working with someone who refuses to negotiate.
    10. Be Flexible
      If your representative opposes the bill that you want, see if you can come up with some common ground. Always offer to follow up on any new developments, and ALWAYS make sure that your fact sheet has all of your contact information.
    11. Follow Up
      After your visit; it is important that you follow up on any questions that you were unable to answer. Always send a note thanking your representative or LA for their time. If necessary, set up another appointment if you need to follow up on a new slant or topic. If your representative does what you told them to do, then be sure to thank them and let them know that you appreciate their efforts.
    12. Benefits of the Visit
      Your visit will not only help to persuade your representative, but it will also be an educational experience for you. During your visit, you will get an inside look at the political climate, and get insight on how to better promote your issue. Never be afraid to ask an LA a question about the actual mechanics behind government.
  1. How to organize a biker lobby day.
    1. Recruit early! Make a goal of putting together a group of 10-15 dedicated bikers who would be willing to meet with legislators about motorcycle rights and other liberty issues.
    2. Make an appointment to meet with legislators. Look at your voter registration card or go online to find the legislators for your district. You will be able to find the contact information for district offices of your legislators using your nine digit zip code. Call the district office and ask to speak with your legislator or staff member. Tell them that you are a constituent/motorcyclist and that your group would like to meet with the Representative/Senator about motorcycle rights or better yet the actual issues/bills of concern to your group.
    3. Prepare your materials. Download lobbying materials and sample letters from the Legislative Action Center. Ask friends who cannot attend the lobby day to also write letters to be hand-delivered during your lobby day. Prepare a number of packets to leave with your legislators' staffs. Letters are most effective when hand written always avoid form letters and especially petitions.
    4. Prepare your group. Meet at least once before your lobby visit to go over messaging, speaking order, and to answer any questions.
    5. How do I choose which legislator to lobby?
      Your group will have a better chance meeting directly with Representatives rather than Senators. For ABATE Chapters that have large numbers of members from multiple districts, choose one or more legislators your group would like to lobby. The more meetings you can set up, the greater your group's lobbying efforts! ABATE of SC's Legislative Coordinator can help you target specific legislators.
    6. What else should I consider?
      You may want to approach other motorcycle rights organizations and see if they would like to cosponsor the event with you. This will have the advantage of increasing attendance at the actual event, increasing collaboration among motorcycle rights organizations, and also will provide you with some other leaders who can help you to organize the event! If possible, involve other motorcyclists or liberty minded groups in the event.
    7. Can I get press coverage?
      This is the perfect occasion to notify the local media and let them know what you are doing! They should be very interested in local biker activists visiting Members of Congress on behalf of a national initiative. For your local area, all you have to do is write a press release and send it out to your local media contacts.
    8. Once the lobby visits are over, am I done?
      Not just yet. All those taking part in the effort should meet nearby the Capitol and share what they learned; I suggest over a nice meal and a cold beer at a location such as the Mellow Mushroom in Columbia. If possible, have all the participants fill out a feedback survey so you know how each visit went. Was their representative receptive? Will he or she support the bill? Send a message to the Legislative and State Coordinator detailing your lobby day so that we can follow up with those offices. Next, follow up with a thank you letter to each office. Remind them what the visit was about and any definite actions that they said they would take.

Contact FastFred

Biker Sticker/Patch - Don't Tread on Me - I Refuse to Allow My Civil Servant to Run My Life
If you enjoy this website please consider making a donation; supporters receive patches and stickers.

© 2000-2005 FastFred's Motorcycle Rights E-zine.