Most of us are familiar with the idea that there are professional lobbyists who work full-time to have some effect on legislation being considered by our elected representatives. Yet, it rarely occurs to most of us that it is something anyone can do if you know how!
With the right tools, you can lobby for or against proposals at the local, state, and federal level. Bad laws and ill-conceived statutes are almost always the result of bad bills which become law because no one stands up and speaks against them. It is also no secret that many legislators would prefer to be able to pass controversial legislation with a minimum of debate or publicity.
That is why adding legislative activism to your “advocacy took kit” can make a huge difference. Elected officials can sometimes be hard to reach or unsympathetic to your cause. They may be surrounded by gatekeepers and assistants who make things even more difficult for anyone who doesn’t have unlimited time and resources to keep trying to meet with them. Legislative advocacy is definitely a marathon, not a sprint!
On June 19th, as part of NARSOL’s “Building Your Advocacy Tool Kit” live webinar, attendees will have a chance to hear from Senator Gary Winfield (CT) and former Representative Daniel Kagan (OR) during a session moderated by one of NARSOL’s most effective legislative advocates, Cindy Prizio. They will be discussing what works and what doesn’t, how to better understand the lawmaking process, how to better tailor your pitch and materials for best effect, and other critical lobbying strategies and techniques.
Cindy Prizio, the moderator for the session, is the cofounder of One Standard of Justice, a Connecticut civil rights advocacy group and NARSOL affiliate organization working for rational laws and public policies related to the sexual offense registry. She is an outspoken and effective citizen lobbyist who advocates for trauma-informed restorative justice and is working to bring a pilot program to her state as an alternative to the criminal legal system. Her other advocacy efforts include aiding with litigation and providing educational webinars. The latest in that series will be broadcast on June 22 and is entitled, “Politics v. Science and Public Safety; Is there Common Ground?”
Senator Gary Winfield is a five-term senator who has been serving in the Connecticut Senate since February 28, 2014. Prior to his time in the state senate, Senator Winfield served an unprecedented three terms in the Connecticut House of Representatives, terms which were marked by the repeal of the state’s death penalty and the passage of a transgender civil rights bill, an education equity bill, and campaign finance reform legislation. As a state senator, Senator Winfield has been an outspoken and instrumental leader in helping to reshape conversations surrounding criminal justice, juvenile justice, and immigration policy.
Daniel Kagan served eight years (2009-2017) in the Colorado House of Representatives, where he was either a member of or chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and two years (2017-2019) in the Colorado State Senate, where he was ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The son of Lithuanian Jews who met in a Nazi concentration camp, Daniel emigrated to the US from England in the seventies and became a citizen in the eighties. Prior to his stint as an elected official, he worked in various blue-collar jobs, as a military flight instructor, a criminal defense lawyer, and a businessman. After retiring from public service, Daniel became a lobbyist for Colorado Advocates for Change, a NARSOL affiliate organization working for rational sexual offense laws in Colorado and lobbying to achieve positive change in the 2021 re-authorization bill for the Colorado Sex Offender Management Board.
Michael McKay is NARSOL’s Director of Marketing and a frequent contributor of articles to the NARSOL website. He is the published author of several non-fiction books, an editor & board member at LifeTimes Magazine, blogger at The Registry Report, and host of Registry Report Radio on BlogTalkRadio.