5 of the best ways to make an impact.
The Utah state Republican and Democratic parties both held conventions this weekend, bringing forth a new lineup of party leaders and CD-3 primary candidate nominees to replace Rep. Jason Chaffetz. Kudos to those of you who participated this weekend — who cast votes and made your voices heard. Participating in your political party is a great way to impact policymaking in our state, as it is within the party conventions that party candidate choices and platform changes are made.
Last week we also celebrated four victories in public lands, all precipitated by ordinary people speaking up, reaching out and using their voices to express their beliefs and needs.
These events inspired us to write about the top 5 ways we believe that ordinary people can make an impact. Here they are:
1. Run for office – Okay, we realize this is wishful thinking. But some of you who had never perviously dreamed of holding political office are doing it now, running for everything from city council to Congress! Ordinary people can have great say in shaping policy from behind a government desk. Thinking about running for office? Check out some of the great training programs available to help ordinary folks learn how to make a run, such as Real Women Run, Women’s Leadership Institute and Run For Something.
2. Become a delegate – Seriously, delegates have a lot more sway than you might at first think, and the time commitment for being a delegate is actually pretty minimal. Plus, no political experience is necessary to be a delegate. Delegates select party leaders, nominate party candidates for office across the county and state and debate and amend party platform. Action Utah will keep you posted about how you can become a delegate in your precinct leading up to the next caucus elections.
3. Vote – Did you know that municipal elections will be held across the state this year? That’s right. City Council, County Council, Mayors and more will be up for election in your area come November. These are the people who impact policymaking right in your back yard. You can have say by spending a few minutes to find out who is running. But in order to vote in primaries in August or elections in November, you’ll have to be registered to vote. Find out how to register here. Contact your local city hall or county office to find out specifics about elections being held near you.
4. Spend time on Capitol Hill in person or virtually – Sitting in on a legislative committee meeting or floor session is one of the best ways to understand how policy is shaped at the State Capitol during the annual State Legislative Session (45 days between January and March) and the Interim Sessions (basically every third Wednesday throughout the rest of the year). Lo and behold, there is an Interim Session THIS WEDNESDAY! We invite you to come up to the State Capitol and sit in on a meeting to hear what our legislators are discussing. Scroll down for information on how to attend below!
5. Build a relationship with your representatives – Look up the people who represent you at the federal, state, county and municipal level. Call up your representative and ask for 15 minutes of their time over a glass of lemonade this summer to tell them about an issue that matters most to you and why. Find out what matters to them. Remember, our representatives are people, just like you and me. Having a respectful, friendly conversation by phone or in person is a great way to build a bridge and pave the path for future conversations with your representatives to help you have a say in the policymaking that goes on around you.
Nervous about meeting with your representative? Don’t worry — Action Utah is here to help you!
Let Action Utah help you have a real voice in your top priority issue
Do you care about health care? Clean air? Immigration? Education? Safety net? Refugees? Women and families? Redistricting? Campaign finance reform? Energy policy? Action Utah leaders are working on exciting initiatives in ALL of these arenas in order to give ordinary community members a voice in the issues that matter to them most.
But that’s where YOU come in. Community lobbying only works if community members are willing to be civically engaged. Action Utah is looking for community members across the state who are willing to meet with their state legislators for a short, friendly conversation about one of these topics. Don’t worry — we will arm you with tips, information and tools to make your meeting productive and meaningful. We can even go with you!
Go ahead and try something new — something far more impactful even than the phone calls you’ve already been making. Contact us to learn more.
Wed, June 21 (all day) – Senate Call-In Day. Join Utah Coalition of Manufactured Homeowners and stakeholders around the state to call our Senators (or their aides) to champion Medicaid and other safety net programs in legislation and the federal budget.
Wed, June 21st 8:30a-3:45p – Interim Session at the State Capitol. Our state legislators are meeting in interim committee meetings on various topics from 8:30a-11:00a and 1:15p-3:45p this Wednesday on Capitol Hill. Choose a committee meeting you’d like to attend on the legislative calendar. If you can’t come in person, listen to the audio recording, which will be posted on the calendar under each committee link later that day. Not sure what to do at a committee meeting? That’s okay — you can come with us! Action Utah Issue Captains will be attending several interim session meetings on Wednesday. Simply contact us if you’re interested in coming along!
1. Listen in on an Interim Committee meeting. One of the best ways to understand how our state legislature and state policy making works in Utah is to visit Capitol Hill during a legislative session. This Wednesday our state senators and representatives will be meeting in smaller “Interim Committees” by topic and discussing a number of policy issues, from health care to energy policy to campaign finance. You do not have to be experienced or knowledgable to sit in on a committee meeting, and no participation is required (in fact, in most interim committee meetings public participation is not allowed). The public is invited to listen in either by sitting in the audience during committee meetings or by clicking on the audio recordings posted under each committee name listed in the Interim Calendar for Wednesday, June 21st. Contact us if you would like to attend a meeting with an Action Utah Issue Captain this Wednesday.
1. Stand up for immigrants. Last week Trump made the remarkable and surprising announcement that he would depart from a major campaign promise and leave DACA in place to continue protecting approximately 800,000 Dreamers in America. But at the same time, Trump officially ended an effort Obama had initiated to protect an additional 5 million immigrants through a Deferred Action for Parents of Americans program. Numerous nonpartisan studies have shown that immigrants, including undocumented immigrants, are a benefit to the American economy. S. 1034 Agricultural Worker Program Act recognizes that 70% of all farmworkers in America are undocumented immigrants. In the face of looming threats of serious labor shortage, this bill protects this critical workforce and the American economy and food supply by protecting these farm workers from deportation and providing a legal path for citizenship.
- Ask our Senators to sign on – Use this United Farmworkers email form to contact Senators Hatch and Lee and ask them to support the Agricultural Worker Program Act.
2. Support U.S. sanctions on Russia. Last week Senators struck a bipartisan deal to impose sanctions against Russia for interfering in the 2016 elections and also limiting the president’s power to lift sanctions without congressional approval. The measure passed nearly unanimously in the Senate at 97 to 2, with our own Senator Lee being one of the dissenting voices. Next it will move on to the House, where the bill faces great challenge.
- Contact your U.S. Representative and ask them to support passing sanctions on Russia after National Intelligence and the FBI have both confirmed they have no doubt that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. elections.
- Give feedback to our Senators – Thank Senator Hatch for working across the aisle and supporting Senate Amendment 232 to impose sanctions on Russia. Call Senator Lee and let him know that you believe the senator should have supported the sanctions.
3. Call today and everyday about health care. Eight healthcare groups (including the American Medical Association, AARP and the American Heart Association) oppose the American Health Care Act and 34 faith groups have joined forces to protect Medicaid. Yet senate offices say that call volumes have been low about health care and the super secret health care bill a few Senators are writing entirely behind closed doors. Rumor has it that the Senate plans to vote on the measure as soon as it is complete, without any public hearings, testimony, amendments, or feedback from the public. In fact, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office will not be able to score the bill and Senators themselves will hardly have time to read it before calling a vote in hopes of passing the bill before the end of the month. This is not the way to pass sweeping legislation that impacts millions of people across the country. Lives and livelihoods hang in the balance, particularly here in Utah where hundreds of thousands of people depend on the services and treatments provided by the ACA, including funding for Medicaid.
- Call our Senators today, tomorrow and every day through the end of the month. One call simply isn’t enough. Our Senators need to hear from us about making the process of drafting health care reform legislation transparent and open to the public and the stakeholders that it impacts. Tell Senators to take time and care, allowing for public input and CBO scores before holding any votes on new health care legislation.
- Join the Utah Call-In Day for Medicaid on Wednesday, June 21st. Join our friends at Utah Coalition of Manufactured Homeowners in calling our Senators to raise our voices in unison on Wednesday in defense of Medicaid and safety net in policy and the federal budget.
Contact Senator Lee and Senator Hatch or call one of these specific aides in our senators’ offices:
- Andy Reuss, Legislative Assistant – firstname.lastname@example.org Tel. 202-224-5444
- Christy Woodruff, Legislative Director- email@example.com Tel. 202-224-5444
- Leslie Ford, Legislative Assistant – firstname.lastname@example.org Tel. 202-224-5444
- Karen LaMontagne, Legislative Assistant – email@example.com Tel. (202) 224-5251
- Lauren Fleming, Health Care Legislative Assistant – firstname.lastname@example.org Tel. (202) 224-5251
- Stuart Portman, Senior Legislative Assistant – email@example.com Tel. (202) 224-5251
Civic engagement is a long game
Many of us are new to politics and civic engagement, so we may not all know that civic engagement takes time to make an impact. Despite all the actions we are taking, it can sometimes be hard to tell if we are truly making a difference in shaping the policy that impacts our daily lives. But rest assured, Utahns, you are. Our friends in the State Legislature tell us that their colleagues have taken note of Action Utah members, of the power our voices can have when we find a way to use them and of the efficacy of our nonpartisan, bridge-building approach.
- That’s why Action Utah had a 70% success rate with the bills we supported and opposed at the State Legislative Session this year.
- That’s why state legislators from both sides of the aisle are now approaching us for help with their 2018 bills.
- That’s why Action Utah has joined coalitions and developed relationships with dozens of advocacy and community organizations in Utah and nationwide.
But our civic engagement doesn’t impact policy overnight. That’s why it’s important for you to build a habit of civic engagement — to fit small actions into your weekly routine that build momentum over time, to build relationships now that pay off later, to commit to taking action regularly and to . sometimes stepping out of your comfort zone to have the most meaningful effect on policymaking. If you haven’t already, please Join Us to learn more about what you can do on a weekly, daily and urgent basis. And feel free to spread the word about us by sharing this email with others.
Andrea & Katie,
Co-Founders, Action Utah
PS – We’re now on Instagram! Follow us at @actionutah!