By Louie Brown, Jr.
Each year, the Community Association Institute’s California Legislative Action Committee (CAI-CLAC) sponsors bills that will significantly enhance the lives of those living and working in California’s 50,000 common interest developments. Another important component of CAI-CLAC is ongoing education for legislators on erroneous and harmful legislation in order to protect the integrity of community associations. This is an ongoing process that requires time and people building relationships at the local level. CAI-CLAC Chapter members can help improve communication with local officials by meeting with their legislators and becoming a go-to resource for community associations. Here’s how.
Scheduling the Meeting. When calling the legislator’s office, ask to speak with the appointment scheduler. Be prepared to be flexible on the dates and times you can meet; have several options ready. Be prepared to provide the scheduler with the number of people who will attend and a short summary of the purpose of the meeting. The typical meeting is scheduled for 15 or 30 minutes. It is not unusual for legislative schedules to change unexpectedly, so be prepared to be as flexible as possible. If the legislator is not available at appointment time, take advantage of the opportunity to become acquainted with or to solidify your relationship with the legislator’s staff.
When visiting your Legislator’s office, it is important to bring with you material about CAI-CLAC. This will become the Legislator’s future reference material when they have questions about common interest developments and who to reach out to for more information. Click here for a list of items to take to your Legislator’s office. If this is your first time visiting with a legislator, it is recommended that you ask an experienced member of your Chapter’s Legislative Support Committee to attend with you.
Four Tips During the Meeting
Make the most out of your next face-to-face meeting with your local legislator by following these four tips during your meeting:
Tip #1: Connect on a personal level. Make a connection with your legislator early in the meeting. Having constituents in the meeting will make this very easy because legislators will focus on those from their district.
Tip #2: Be brief and informed. Legislators deal with many issues and will not likely be knowledgeable on your particular concern. Talk briefly, clearly and don’t use acronyms.
Tip #3: Leave your personal politics at the door. The meeting is scheduled to talk about policy issues impacting constituents in their district. Don’t let politics distract from the purpose of the meeting. In general, discussions about campaigning, party affiliation, fundraising and other related topics are generally frowned upon.
Tip #4: Invite the legislator and staff to an association function or board meeting.
After the Meeting. Send a handwritten letter thanking the legislator for his or her time. Reiterate the main points made during the meeting. Thank him or her for any support promised. If no position was stated, or the legislator opposed your position, it is appropriate to once again encourage support.
CAI-CLAC has additional materials available to help you and your Chapter members prepare. Visit What to Expect When Visiting Your Legislator and What to Take to Your Legislator’s Office for more information. If you have any questions or need more information, contact our CAI-CLAC Sacramento Advocate at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CAI-CLAC is now focusing on our 2019 Legislative priorities. The Legislature returns in December to be sworn in, but the real work will not begin until after the first of the year. We will continue to keep our members informed as legislation is introduced. Sign up for our email updates to get notified on pressing legislation throughout the year.