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Meeting directly with your legislator is the gold standard. Here's how.

How to Schedule a Meeting With Your State Legislators

WSMA's government affairs team works year-round to advocate for the house of medicine, but there's no substitute for physicians connecting directly with their local legislators. Your lived experience is critical context for lawmakers to understand when considering policy changes. Your experiences and knowledge of practicing medicine in your community can be invaluable to your local legislators and can help support WSMA's legislative agenda.

How do I know who my state legislators are?

Visit the state Legislature's district finder. Enter your home address and click "find my district." Legislators prioritize meetings with constituents, which is determined by the address associated with your voter registration. If you own a practice in another legislative district, legislators may still be interested in meeting as you represent a business and are providing a service in their community.

Make sure the preferred district type is "legislative" (Tip: You can also use this feature to look up your congressional delegation!). Once your district is located, the names of three state legislators will appear: one state senator and two state representatives.

Where can I find contact information for my state legislators?

Contact information can be found in the directory for Washington state senators and the directory for Washington state representatives. Legislators are listed in alphabetical order by last name. In addition to their contact information, these directories also include links to your legislator's website and information such as their party affiliation, leadership positions, and the committees they serve on.

Alternatively, a roster of all House and Senate members includes contact information for members and their legislative assistants. When in doubt, email Shelby Wiedmann at shelby@wsma.org for assistance locating contact information.

How should I reach out to my state legislators to request a meeting?

Email will likely be the preferred method of communication for legislators. Make sure to send the meeting request to your legislator, and bonus points if you copy their legislative assistant! Legislative assistants generally keep legislators' schedules, so your odds of getting a meeting could be increased by ensuring they're in the loop.

Make sure the subject line of the email can clearly be identified as a meeting request. If you are a constituent, include that, too, as legislators make every attempt to connect with folks in their legislative district. You may also include the topic of the meeting. If you are reaching out to discuss WSMA's 2022 legislative priorities, as WSMA members do at the Legislative Summit, simply put "WSMA priorities." If you are reaching out on a specific issue, name it.

  • Example subject line: Physician constituent meeting request / WSMA priorities

The body of the email needs to include six details:

  1. Your name/affiliation and contact information.
  2. Whether you are a constituent (you may want to include your address in your signature block so the office can confirm you are a constituent).
  3. A request for a meeting with your legislator.
  4. The topic of the meeting.
  5. A timeframe, i.e., in the next two weeks.
  6. Your availability (legislators will have very strict schedules during session and while their offices will work with you to find a date/time that works for all parties, if you know you are widely available on Tuesdays or during lunch hours, it can be helpful to share that information).

When should I reach out to my state legislators for a meeting?

As soon as possible! Due to the nature of a virtual session, it may take longer to get a virtual meeting scheduled with your legislator(s) as their offices will be handling a high volume of requests. Ideally, your meeting will take place during the legislative session, which runs from January through March in even-numbered years and January through April in odd-numbered years.

In the meantime, you may let your legislator know your stance on legislation by emailing articles, responding to WSMA's calls to action, or sharing your related professional experiences year-round. Please remember to be respectful to legislators and their staff during these interactions, particularly in terms of the number of inquiries or information-sharing emails you send. No spamming!

When should I expect a reply?

Be patient. If you haven't received a response within one or two weeks, don't be afraid to follow up to inquire about the status of your meeting request. Also, please feel free to reach out to Shelby Wiedmann at shelby@wsma.org for assistance.

What will the meeting format look like?

During the remote/hybrid 2022 legislative session, legislative meetings with the public will likely be conducted virtually. Legislators will be using Microsoft Teams and/or Zoom; the legislator's office will provide the virtual platform and connection details, so you do not need access to your own account for these meetings. If you have concerns about broadband capabilities, legislative offices may also schedule a phone call meeting if you let them know that is preferred.

Most legislative meetings during session last 15 minutes, and legislators may have back-to-back virtual meetings so they will need to stay on schedule. During interim, legislators are more likely to have the time for longer meetings.

If your legislator is unable to meet directly, they may request that a member of their staff meet with you on their behalf. Their staff member will relay what was discussed to the legislator.

How can I prepare for this meeting?

Check out these resources:

Session resources:

  • During session, the WSMA will compile issue briefs on our priority issues. We recommend reading the issue briefs before the meeting, so you're versed in the subject matter. Issue briefs can also be shared with your legislator after the meeting as a follow up to your conversation.
  • Attend the Legislative Summit on Feb. 7. WSMA's government affairs and policy team will share information about our priority issues, as well as provide a general legislative update. Registration is free for all WSMA members.

What should I discuss?

  • Introduce yourself and share brief background information.
  • Explain the purpose of the meeting and your connection to WSMA.
  • Pick 2-3 of WSMA's priority issues to discuss (you can't get to everything in 15 minutes!), or issues that are of importance to you.
    • Share why those issues are top of mind to you: how they will impact you, your patients, your practice, and/or your profession.
    • Including personal and professional anecdotes can be very effective.
  • Leave some time for your legislator to ask questions. Building a rapport with your legislator is important; think of the meeting as more of a conversation than a presentation.
  • Offer to be a resource in the future to your legislator and thank them for their time.

What should I do after I meet with my state legislator(s)?

After you have met with your state legislators, please feel welcome to share your experience with Alex Wehinger at alex@wsma.org. If able, we'd love to hear about how your meetings went; please reach out and let us know!

It's also advised that you follow up with your legislator(s) with a "thank you." Not only is this a nice gesture, but we want you to be remembered and begin to establish a relationship, and a thank you note goes a long way! A thank you email is also an opportune time to share WSMA's issue briefs (if your meeting was during session) on the subjects you discussed with your legislator.

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