How to Get Involved in Local, State and Federal Issues
Have you heard or read about a balloon-related issue being discussed by your local, state and federal officials that would impact your business?
Have you wanted to do something about it but did not know what to do?
It's easy to sit back and complain about what "they" are doing to "me" and "my business." However, democracy is not a spectator sport. There are many ways in which you can get involved at the local, state or federal level.
Identify the issue.
Who supports it and who opposes it? Monitoring pertinent local, state and federal legislation is the first step to involvement on issues that matter to you.
Find out who your elected officials are.
When you learn about a proposed law that is of concern to you, look in the telephone directory or call your town hall to find out how to reach your representatives at the appropriate level of government.
- Express yourself.
Find out if - and when - there will be a publichearing to debate the proposed law.
- Call or write your elected official.
Let your legislator know how you feel about the issue.
- Encourage your business colleagues and friends to call and write.
The more phone calls and letters you can generate in support of your position, the more likely it is that your representative will respond to your concern.
- Attend hearings on the issue.
If you feel comfortable, prepare a few remarks and present them during the public portion of the meeting. Bring extra copies of your remarks for members of the governing body and the news media. Contact other businesses that will be affected. Encourage them to attend the hearing and ask them if they would be willing to speak.
- Call or write to thank your elected officials.
If they offer a commitment of support for your issue.
- Call your local newspapers.
Let them know your position on the issue. Issues affecting local businesses usually interest reporters.
- Send a "letter to the editor."
To your local newspaper explaining your position. Urge others to write as well. The letter should be clear and concise.
Contacting Your Legislature
Always remember that your elected official acts as your representative in local, state or federal government. Your opinions, concerns and ideas are very important to him or her.
Here are some tips to use when calling or writing to your elected official.
- Identify your subject by name or bill number. Also explain what the bill addresses.
- Identify yourself and personalize your case. For example, "As a twenty-year resident of the county and an active member of <your precinct, ward, district>, I'm concerned about..."
- If your elected official is not available when you call, leave your name, phone number and your position on the issue. Speak to a legislative aide if you have the opportunity.
- Explain to your representative how the issue in question would affect you, your business and the community. Emphasize how specific actions would impact the elected official's constituency.
- Keep your letter or telephone call brief and to the point. Address only one issue or bill in your letter. State your point clearly and concisely. Set forth why you feel as you do, and include evidence that supports your arguments.
- When writing a letter, use your own words to make it more effective. Avoid jargon, form-letter language or overused phrases. Use personal stationary, company letterhead, or plain white paper. Most legislators prefer typed letters but handwritten correspondences will suffice. Make sure to include your address and telephone number on the letter and sign your name clearly.
- Thank your legislators for their concern regarding the issue, and ask them to communicate their positions to you. If you do not receive an immediate response to your letter be patient, sometimes legislators are inundated with mail.
- Don't be afraid to call or write again if you have not heard from your elected official. They work for you, and they should hear from you.
Balloon Release Laws:
CURRENT STATE RELEASE BANS
California (1990) - mylar only
RESTRICTIONS DEFEATED - 1994
New Jersey (1)
New York (1)
LEGISLATION DEFEATED -1996
LEGISLATION PENDING -2000