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ADVOCACY - Advocacy Training
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While professional lobbyists are an important force in policy making, grassroots contacts are an essential element of a successful effort to influence public policy.

To appreciate the importance of a grassroots lobby effort, one must take a moment to look at a legislator's world. 

A legislator:

  1. Wants to do a good job.  What does doing a good job mean for the Texas Physical Therapy Association?
  2. Wants to get re-elected.  He/she needs the support of voting constituents back home in order to get re-elected.
  3. Wants to be responsive.  A legislator is elected to represent you – his/her constituent – but not at any cost and other considerations may prevent him/her from being responsive.
  4. Is not an expert in Physical Therapy.  Don't expect him/her to have your familiarity with industry problems.  Share your knowledge with your legislator.
  5. Is very busy.  A legislator is public property – everyone wants a piece of his/her time.  Don't waste his/her time – get to the point quickly.
  6. Lives in "the world of the possible."  Legislatures are made up of distinct personalities representing widely varying constituencies and viewpoints.  It is extremely difficult to reach agreement on anything.  Consequently, compromise is a way of life – not a sell out.  A legislator rarely gets to vote on the exact bill he/she favors.  He/she must think in terms of what will pass, not necessarily what is ideal.
  7. Is beset by conflicting pressures.  "Reduce taxes, but don't cut spending."  "Cut spending, but not that program."  "Tax him, not me."
  8. Wants to know how legislation will affect his district.  It is up to you to show him/her how your legislation will impact the people he/she represents.
  9. Is concerned with dozens of bills and issues and meets hundreds of people.  Take time between legislative sessions and during campaigns to get to know your legislator and his/her staff.  Spend time helping in campaigns.

Above all remember that it is the people "back home" who elected legislator and it is Physical Therapy professionals who educate a legislator about Physical Therapy Issues.

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