Today was Opening Day at the Arizona State Legislature, and for the first tine in many years I wasn't out at the Capitol, with partners and friends. I imagine this was what the kids felt like when "Back to School" went virtual in the Fall.
There have been some changes to the State House and Senate this year, but we still expect many bills that go against our values of equality and compassion, that we must work hard to stop. In 2020, UUs became more willing than ever to courageously voice their values and to embrace technology to do so.
That's why I really believe this year's UU Day at the Legislature could be the best yet!
UU Day at the Legislature is a tradition that's been around for years, even pre-dating UUJAZ. Hundreds of UUs from across the state come to the Capitol to voice our values to our State Legislators. This year, to keep everyone safe, DATL is going VIRTUAL! We are hard at work, creating programming to keep you informed about the bills at play this year, and how you can use your voice to affect change. We are bringing in incredible partners and amazing speakers... and we need to know if you are coming so we know what appointments to schedule! Will you fill out your registration survey and RSVP by January 18th?
Wondering what you can do to prepare now for the upcoming three months of Legislative season? Here are some tips from UU Melinda Iyer at Civic Engagement Beyond Voting (be sure tosign up for the weekly recaps here).
Be ready to contact your legislators. (If you don’t know your legislative district, look it up here.) Store the info for your representatives and senator in your contacts right now, so it’s easy to reach out later. Pro tip: use a keyword such as “Rep” so you can pull them all up at once.
Know the committee chairs and legislative leaders. For a bill to become law, it must first be assigned to committee. Bills that never get assigned or heard quietly die. If a bill isn’t assigned, contact the Speaker of the House and the Senate President. If a bill is assigned but isn’t on an agenda, contact its committee chair. Here’s a handy committee list with contact info, and an equally handy flowchart for how to weigh in as a bill becomes law.
Pick up the phone.If a state lawmaker gets 10 calls a day on any given topic, their phone is ringing off the hook. Emails, by contrast, are easy to ignore — especially since each lawmaker gets hundreds of them every day. Don’t be afraid to make a call! Be polite, introduce yourself by name as a constituent. Be friendly to the assistants; they have tons of power. And consider reserving this strategy for less-friendly lawmakers, to avoid clogging the works for the ones who love us best.
Your presence matters. For every 10,000 people using RTS, 1,000 make a phone call. 50 attend a hearing. And 5 request a meeting with their lawmaker. This makes showing up in person one of the most effective ways to advocate. Even better, "in person" looks different this year — a Zoom meeting with your lawmaker is an effective way to advocate and logistically far simpler than the in-person hoops of the past. Don't be afraid to ask for 15 minutes of your lawmaker's time, and put it to good use... join us at UU Day at the Legislature and we'll make your appointments for you!
Every Thursday in January, 5:30-6:30pm
Join our partners from Save Our Schools Arizona in a training put on by Civic Engagement Beyond Voting (CEBV) to learn about using the AZ Legislature's Request to Speak (RTS) system, navigate the Legislature's website, and ask questions about the legislative process.
We are fortunate in AZ to have this official online system that allows us to express our wishes directly to state legislators. It was designed for lobbyists, but we the people can (and must) use this tool to voice our values!
To access the member's only content, login with user name member and the password (which can be requested from firstname.lastname@example.org). Member content in the members menu includes congregational and committee documents and reports, including minutes.