Schedule an Office Visit
While more time-consuming than phone calls or letters, face-to-face meetings provide an opportunity to have a more in-depth discussion about your concerns.
Meetings with legislators may be scheduled at any time. The interim provides a particularly useful opportunity to meet with legislators because they are not engaged in the hectic schedule of the session and may have
more time to hear and respond to your concerns.
Most legislators have at least two offices, one in Annapolis and another in their legislative district. For most people, it may be more convenient to set up a
meeting in the district office. However, during the legislative session it is often impossible for legislators to schedule meetings away from Annapolis.
In many ways, meetings with legislators are like any other professional meeting. When you call to request an appointment, you will be expected to explain the
purpose of the meeting and to provide information about yourself or the organization that you are representing.
Because legislators are very busy, you may only have a few moments to talk. Therefore, it is important to plan your visit carefully. It is usually best to
focus the agenda on one specific policy topic or bill.
Bring a concise (one or two pages) written summary that explains the issue that you are concerned about, including arguments that support the position you are
asking the legislator to take. In addition, you might bring copies of information about your organization and its membership, such as a brochure or mission statement.
Planning an Office Visit
Make the appointment.
Prepare for the visit. Draft "fact sheets" or "talking points" and
other "leave behind" materials.
Arrive early and allow time for parking!
Expect delays and interruptions.
Use limited time wisely. Summarize your position.
Be prepared to listen and respond to questions.
Follow up after the visit with a thank you letter and additional information (if appropriate).
If you belong to a coalition or organization that supports your cause, you might consider inviting up to three or four other members to join your meeting. You
might also consider inviting young people who would be directly affected by the bill.
Office visits provide a nice opportunity for young people to learn about the legislature. If you choose to invite others, you may wish to outline the points that each person will cover during the meeting. Designate someone to facilitate the meeting so that the group remains focused on the agenda.
Legislators' schedules often change with little notice, so be sure to confirm your meeting before you leave. You should also expect delays and/or
interruptions. These breaks provide an excellent opportunity to get to know the legislator's or committee's staff.
After introducing your position or concerns, invite the legislator to respond with any questions or comments that he or she might have. This will allow you to
focus your limited time on addressing points of particular importance to the legislator. After the meeting, send a thank you note to the legislator. Be sure to follow up in a timely manner if the legislator requests
additional information or raises questions that you were not able to answer during the meeting.
Marylandís Legislative Process
A Guide for Individuals Concerned about the Health of Marylandís Children and Adolescents, Second Edition
The Johns Hopkins Center for Adolescent Health Promotion and Disease Prevention