Legislators - Who are They?
Contrary to popular perception, legislators do not make a lot
of money (as legislators at least) and do not have legions of
staff at their disposal. The base salary is $28,000 a year. By
and large, they are committed public servants who make
significant personal and financial sacrifices with long hours,
hard work, and lots of angry feedback. Most legislators spend
far more in the course of representing their district and
running for office than they ever make as legislators. It's not
as glamorous as it looks.
No man undertakes a trade he has not learned... yet everyone thinks
himself sufficiently qualified for the hardest of all trades, that of
- Theoretically, the job is part time. But most spend at least 40
hours a week on the work -- between late hours at the Capitol,
meetings with staff, colleagues and constituents, running for
office, travel, paperwork, and other duties.
- The most important thing for advocates to remember about
legislators is that they work for their voters. You are unlikely to
receive support if you ask a legislator to vote against the
interests of a major employer or institution in their district. They
don't get re-elected for their policy expertise but by their
constituents; their job is to represent those concerns.
- They represent a broad range of interests, backgrounds,
experiences, biases, and networks. They are as varied as Connecticut
- Legislators are, by and large, a friendly and gregarious group of
people (it helps in getting elected). They welcome input from
advocates. Some will seek you out for information. I've spoken to
many potential advocates who are intimidated about approaching a
legislator. There is no reason to be anxious.
- Do not make assumptions about legislators and their views. Some of
the best child advocates in the legislature do not have children.
Some Democrats are far more conservative than some Republicans. You
- They are not experts on every policy area the legislature
considers. No one could be.
- According to our
surveys of policymakers, legislators rely most heavily on state
agencies, legislative staff, advocacy organizations, provider
groups, community groups, journals and publications, and the media
for information about health policy, in that order.
- They trust legislative staff, consultants, state agencies,
journals and publications, national policy organizations, advocacy
organizations, and academic sources, in that order. They do not
trust the media.
Overall, legislators are just like us - all of us. As a group, they
are approachable and genuinely appreciate input from advocates. They
would much rather get a friendly call before a vote than an angry one
In Separated by Velvet Ropes published
5/25/03 in the Hartford Courant's Northeast magazine, Kevin Rennie
describes the culture and frenzy at the end of the legislative session.
A former Senator, his description is vivid and accurate.
Navigating the Legislative Process
How to work with campaigns
Rules and customs for navigating within
the Legislative Office Building and the State Capitol
Directions to the Legislative Office
Building and the State Capitol
Calling a Policymaker
Writing to Policymakers
Visiting with a Policymaker
The Importance of Legislative Staff
The Proper Care and Feeding of a
Tips No Advocate should forget
How to testify at a Public Hearing
Writing Op-Eds and Letters to
Classic Advocate Mistakes
Connecticut's Budget Process
If you only have 5 minutes to
make a difference
How a Bill Becomes a Law
How to work with a lobbyist
How to Create Fact Sheets and
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