Make Your Voice Heard on Capitol Hill

Even though there is a lot going on with the election cycle and the huge push to find the final capitol
candidates to run for the Presidency, we must stay vigilant to what is going on currently in our state legislatures.

The legislative process is a fascinating process, yet at one time, I couldn’t get far enough away from it! I was under the impression that I couldn’t make a difference – but I was wrong! In fact, I’ve been told that sometimes an experience shared by one constituent can affect a vote.

Elected officials need our input to know how we’ll be affected if certain bills are or are not signed into law. You can write e-mails to them. You can go to town hall meetings. You can even call them on the phone when they are in session. However, I have found that going to the Capitol and meeting with elected officials in person during the legislative session is the most effective way to express my ideas. Attending committee meetings allows one to see how elected officials operate and negotiate. I’ve been able to watch the action from the gallery, and I’ve been invited to sit on the floor right in the midst of all the action! Nothing can replace person contact.

Tomorrow is one of the days that there will be many Farm Bureau members at the statehouse. Actually, any Iowan can visit the statehouse to meet with elected officials on any day that the Legislature is in session. All you have to do is walk to the chamber door to either the House of Representatives or the Senate. You simply fill out a slip to request to talk with a specific official, and then hand that slip of paper to the doorkeeper, who will find out whether the representative or senator is available. If he or she is available, he or she will come to the door and talk with you.

There are many issues discussed daily: taxes, education and other topics that may affect you directly. It’s important that you make your voice heard. I can assure you, someone will be “twisting arms” on any given issue and he or she (or a particular special interest group) may not share your opinion!

Voting for a person who’s running for office is just the beginning of the political process. It’s important that you remain engaged! You might feel comfortable calling on elected officials by yourself, or perhaps you’d be more comfortable joining a group effort through an organization that shares your interests. Either way, grassroots efforts can lead to better representation. The time spent contacting legislators and regulators is an investment – and you just may enjoy the experience!