Doing some homework on state legislators’ background can be helpful preparation for forming a professional relationship with them. Visiting legislators’ websites, searching for articles in the Denver Post, visiting their social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) regional newspapers, or political blogs can give you a sense of their priorities.
This is where you come in! Nonprofits are experts when it comes to their missions and the people they serve.
- Determine which legislators to meet. While you are welcome to try to make an appointment with any legislator, most likely your time will be best spent meeting with legislators who represent the district(s) where your nonprofit is located and legislators who would most benefit from your expertise. These meetings can be used to strengthen alliances with legislators who care greatly about your issues already, or to educate those who are less familiar with your organization and its mission.
- Find contact information. Legislators’ capitol contact information can be found on the General Assembly's website. For legislative matters, it’s best to contact them at the Capitol. Outside of session, it may be more practical to contact legislators at home particularly those who live a good distance from the Capitol. They may choose to give you more personal and private means of contact (i.e. cell phone, home phone, personal email, etc.) if they are comfortable being contacted that way but it’s best to defer to their contact preferences.
- Set up an appointment. When you get in touch with the legislator or a staff member, set up a definite time and date to meet. While some legislators may set up longer appointments, you should be prepared to meet for about 15 minutes. Be prepared to reschedule at the last minute if necessary because things change rapidly at the Capitol. But don’t get frustrated, it’s very important that they stay in touch with people and employers in their district.
Generally, the chambers tend to meet as a body between 9:00 am to about 11:00 am or perhaps noon. Any morning committees will meet “upon adjournment” or “upon recess,” meaning they will meet as soon as chamber business is completed. Sometimes, committees will take working lunches but generally legislators will break for lunch between noon and about 1:30, so their break could consist of a lunch meeting, office time, or free time.
Afternoon committees usually meet starting at 1:30 and those meetings can last late into the afternoon or evening sometimes. If your legislator is in a committee meeting on the 13th, he or she may not be able to meet in the afternoon, so it’s helpful if you have some flexibility on meeting dates and times. Please consult the General Assembly website for committee schedules and contact information.