SD Legislation + Lobbying
GETTING THE MESSAGE OUT
Dakota Rural Action is committed to advocating for and with our members at all levels of government. Each year, we send a lobbyist to Pierre to do so at South Dakota’s legislative session – and each year, DRA asks you to give your input and to get involved at the state level. When the Legislature is in session, Dakota Rural Action’s lobbyist has two ultimate responsibilities: first, to advocate for our members’ interests directly with legislators and other state officials; and second, to keep our members informed of – and involved in – legislation that directly affects them and their communities.
So, while DRA has a part-time lobbyist in Pierre during the legislative session, her role is not that of a traditional “lobbyist” who speaks directly to legislators on behalf of the company or organization they represent. Our lobbyist works before, during, and after the session to inform and educate DRA members about upcoming legislation and to encourage members to directly lobby their legislators themselves. This work includes lobby trainings where she teaches members about how to talk to legislators, encouraging members to write letters and emails to their legislators, and hosting lobby days up at the capitol building during the session. DRA also encourages members to hold house and community meetings to ensure the general public is informed about the issues during the session, to write letters to the editor to their local newspapers, and to help keep their own communities engaged. Meet Our Lobbyist.
DRA keeps its members up to date with weekly Legislative Updates and a yearly Legislative Guide, both mailed to our membership, as well as a Legislative Blog, updated daily to keep you connected and informed. Join today to receive weekly updates in your email or mail box and support grassroots organizing.
OUR WORK IN PIERRE IS 100% FUNDED BY MEMBERS.
It costs nearly $6,000 to fund our lobbyist’s room and board, as well as travel expenses for members to testify in Pierre. Please consider donating today to support our work in Pierre financially this session. Just $50 will cover one member’s travels to Pierre.
Your gifts are deeply appreciated and have directly benefited our many legislative victories over the years.
WAYS TO GET INVOLVED: A CITIZEN’S GUIDE
1. Write a letter or email – In this era of mass media, legislators really do respond well to direct communication, especially to letters. They know that you have taken the time to sit down, think about the issue, and communicate your thoughts to them. A few letter and email tips:
•Keep it short and sweet: They are very busy during the session, and will be able to take your opinion into consideration better if they can quickly understand what you are writing about.
•Ask for a specific action: If there is a vote coming up, or if you want them to bring up a certain issue, ask them that directly so they know what you are asking them to do.
2. Make a phone call – It can be difficult to get in direct touch with legislators during the session, but you can call the Capitol and leave a message or call them directly. Keep in mind they do not have a lot of time to talk, so be prepared to tell them quickly what you think.
3. Attend a crackerbarrel – Hosted in most South Dakota cities, crackerbarrels are attended by legislators throughout the session, and are a great place to ask legislators questions directly.
4. Write a letter to the editor – While it is important to talk to your legislators about their votes, it is also important to let your community know what is happening as well. Most newspapers publish letters to the editor on an on-going basis. Check the paper’s opinion page or website for their submission requirements, and be sure to let us know when your letter is published so we can promote it as well.
5. Hold a house meeting around an issue – You know your neighbors best, and this is a very informal way of getting them informed and involved. If you want to host a house meeting around a piece of legislation or a particular issue, your DRA chapter organizer can help you with how to get one going and how to run it. As always, personal contact is the best way to get the word out, and house meetings can even be attended by legislators.
Nothing – and we mean nothing – is stronger than citizens’ voices, rallying around an issue.
If you would like to host a house meeting, be a part of our phone activation list, or be involved in our lobbying efforts in Pierre, contact our West River office at 605.716.2200, e-mail Sabrina King at firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone Sabrina in Pierre during the session at 605.939.0527. Staff is always willing to help you think through legislative strategy and prepare for testimony.