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Legislative Affairs:

Business

Current Bills/Actions before Congress

A bill must be passed by both the House and Senate in identical form and then be signed by the President to become law. Bills numbers restart every two years. December 31, 2020 will end the 116th Congress. January 2021 will start the 117th Congress and these issues will have to be re-introduced and started again with cosponsors.

A "quick look" is available in the images at right. Downloadable version at the link lower right.

05/18/20/ WNC MOAA/ Business/

Legislative Issues: MOAA Makes It Easy To Be Heard

How to Take Action on Legislative Issues Using the MOAA website.

Although COVID-19 issues are paramount on the Hill at this time, MOAA provides a streamlined method of supporting legislative issues we care about. Here's how it works:

- Go to moaa.org

- Select Advocacy, then go to Legislative Action Center or...

- Click on Legislative Action Center, that will take you to the "Take Action" center.

- All the bills are listed here, and each one has a button - "Take Action"

- Click on the button and it takes you to a letter that spells out what we're asking our legislators to consider in regard to that topic/issue.

- Next, you'll confirm your contact information as you want it to appear and then click on "Preview Message."

- You'll see who the recipients will be and the letter they will be receiving.

- Lastly, click on submit.

You're done! And now your voice will be heard!

04/16/20/ WNC MOAA/ Business/

Congressional Advocacy 101:

How to Educate Your Lawmaker for Beginners!

For 15 years I have walked the halls of Congress. I did not take a class or even receive any helpful tips before embarking on this endeavor, but over time I acquired valuable experience on the protocol and inner workings of Congress. Looking back, it certainly would have been helpful if there had been a guidebook like “What to Expect When Meeting with a Congressional Member or Staffer” or “Capitol Hill for Dummies.” Time is of the essence for all MOAA members to start their advocacy, so rather than writing a book I will share my experiences with you in this article.

We elect our Senators and Representatives and, in turn, they should consider our points of view when they vote in Congress. They are very powerful people who are responsible for changing the law and, as their constituents, we can help influence how they vote to support or oppose a law. In addition to their role on the Hill, members meet often in their local offices allowing them to connect with their constituents and to listen to their views or learn about their issues. Congressional members hail from all walks of life and, prior to their prestigious role in Congress, they had “real jobs” like you and I--auctioneers, lawyers, schoolteachers, real estate agents, even practicing physicians. My experience on the Hill afforded me the opportunity to get to know them. I speak highly of their kindness and congeniality. They are willing to listen and help but will need facts and a good educator; that’s YOU!

How to get Started

Meet with your members of Congress, State Representatives, or their staffers. Make an appointment at their local office or take a trip to DC. For most members of Congress, their days are packed with meetings, hearings, and voting. Don’t be offended if you are scheduled to meet with their staffer instead of the member directly. Staffers have a significant influence in the modern Congress and serve as the eyes, and ears of the member. Also, most members of Congress have multiple staff members and many times, each staffer is assigned a different area of focus. For example, most offices have one staffer that handles only healthcare issues.

How to “Make Your Case”

When talking with a staffer and making your pitch, try to speak in layman’s terms and remember that they must turn around and share the issue or view with their supervisor or the member. If the issue is too complicated or hard to explain, they may not endorse the issue. Keep it as simple as possible and share top-line talking points for them to share with the member.

Although members of Congress were at one time just like us—they are now in a different role. They are public figures, in the press, or on TV. They are not bashful, so keep their egos in mind. Let having them support our issues also be about them (Gibson 2010). Let them see how the outcome of supporting our issue would positively impact, not only their constituents, but would be good for a press release, especially if they are up for re-election. If they supported other military and veteran bills in the past, thank them for their support.

Serve as a Resource/Issue Expert

It is also helpful to offer to serve as a resource for members and their staff pertaining to military and retiree and their family legislative issues. Share with them details about how these issues impact our military and retiree community or about some of the issues that you may deal with on a day-to-day, especially pertaining to our healthcare. Make it personal.

Let them know that you stand ready to offer any input or feedback on any other issues having to do with military or veterans’ issues. This lets them know that you perceive the relationship as a “two-way street.” This ensures that if another issue arises that concerns active duty servicemembers, retirees and their families, they are more likely to reach out to gain the perspective of a trusted constituent.

How does this help our MOAA members?

As a veteran service organization, we want the best for our active duty servicemembers, retirees, their families and including their survivors. In order to improve and or change existing legislation, we need the help of Congress to amend a proposed law or create a bill to change the law. The common goal for changing legislation is to help improve future benefits for our military and veterans and their families, including military survivors and their children.

Educating congress raises awareness of our MOAA organization, our legislative priorities, and the good we do to help improve the quality of life for millions. Meeting with your elected official (Representative, Senator) or their staff members can be a very rewarding and exhilarating experience, knowing that you are exercising your civic duty. Get involved today and help improve the quality of lives for millions!

Although some of our bills may have significant bi-partisan support, more is needed! Please reach out today--call or email--to your Representative and Senators to let them know why you support this bill and why it is needed for patients and practitioners alike. Access the MOAA Legislative Action Center to easily make your views known!

Dr. Vivianne Wersel

Western North Carolina MOAA Chapter – Legislative Committee-Chair

Citation: Gibson, J. (2010) Persuading Congress. Alexandria, VA: TheCapito.Net, Inc.

04/29/20/ WNC MOAA/ Business/

Meeting with Your Congressional Members and Staffers

“Congressional staffers have significant influence in the modern Congress. Get to know the staffers who work on your issues and educate them (Gibson 2010)”

Who is your member?

• Unsure who your congressional representative or senators are? Look here:

House

Senate

• Identify your legislators – Click on their names for their home page

o One representative in your congressional district

o Two Senators (per state)

• DC Office

• Field Office (local) Find phone # on website

Making the appointment

• Introduce yourself and request to speak with staffer who works with “topic”

• “Good morning I’m (State your name) I am interested in scheduling a meeting with (Congressman/Senator’s name) or the appropriate staff member regarding military and veteran legislation. Would you be able to direct me to the right staffer or could I meet with my member when he/she is in the home office?”

• Request a face-to-face meeting-15 minute meeting

• Request a photo opportunity for day of meeting

• Appointment made

o Verify appt with f/u email

Make a good first impression

• Arrive on time

• Dress professional

• Bring prepared handouts reflecting MOAA’s position- placed neatly in folder

• Research if member has already co-sponsored bill

• Provide business or personal card (email address)

The meeting

• Introduce yourself – use your military title, title “I’m Lt Colonel John Smith, USAF Retired”

• Provide staffer with the folder of MOAA handout(s)- ask your Chapter council for support on the issue at large

• Thank them for taking time out of their busy schedule- upfront -keep pleasantries to minimum

• If member already co-sponsored- thank them for their support

• Give a quick overview

o Hone in on the message (bare essentials) and how does this impact their constituents (Gibson 2010)

• Educate the committee member-keep the language simple

• Don’t talk too fast or too much

Body language

• Provide eye contact throughout meeting

• Look interested when they speak (head nods etc.)

• If staffers seem bored, or looking at their watch, wrap it up quickly

Ending the meeting

• Ask if you can f/u and who is the best person to f/u if not the staffer?

• Ask if additional information is needed for f/u

• Thank staffer for their time (exit with a smile and positive comment)

Unable to meet face to face? Other alternatives:

• Call DC office (866) 272-6622 Capitol Switchboard -ask for member’s office

• Call Local office

• Ask to speak to the staffer who works with health Legislation

• Leave a message asking member to support H.R. XXXX or S. XXX

• Facebook page

• Social media

• Twitter

• Facebook page

If you need more support or plan on being in the DC area and would like to visit your member on Capitol Hill, don’t hesitate to reach out to your chapter’s legislative Committee or MOAA Government Relation’s team for support.

Citation: Gibson, J. (2010) Persuading Congress. Alexandria, VA: TheCapito.Net, Inc.

04/29/20/ WNC MOAA/ Business/

Notes from Legislative Affairs Meeting, 7 April 2020

Currently the committee is comprised of Robert Padgett and Vivianne Wersel. and both will be in close contact with the MOAA state legislative chair, Iggy (Ihor) Husar. Michael will focus on State issues while Vivianne will lead with Federal issues. Both will support each other as needed.

Discussed as per directed by MOAA National Government Relations, legislative priorities during COVID-19 times will focus on issues negatively impacting active military, retirees and their families to include asking congress to halt downsizing of military treatment facilities, halt closing of clinics, and to waive Express scripts fees.

Michael is gathering a database, with contact information, of our state representatives that pertain to our WNC chapter. At this time waiting to hear from Iggy for the state priorities recommended during COVID-19 times.

Vivianne discussed plans for education of members, and will provide instructions how to communicate with their elected officials using a helpful dialog to guide them. She will provide these step by step instructions via the WNC MOAA Web. The goal is to to reach out to members for legislative updates as well as inform them on how they can get involved via WNC MOAA web and National MOAA web or phone call. Will educate members how to use “Take Action” via the MOAA web.

04/13/20 01:48:14/ Anon/ Business/
Western North Carolina Chapter of the Military Officer's Association of America.
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