How to Prepare for Austin

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You know it’s important to attend Legislative Days as a business owner or local professional and get face-to-face with the local legislators who represent Garland. Do you also know how to prepare to meet those legislators?

You’re invested in this community and you want to meet with the people who have a direct influence on your area. We think that’s great! And we want to help you prepare to have effective meetings and interactions during your time in Austin. Here are a few simple steps to prepare for Garland Legislative Days.

  1. Identify Your Main Message
    Time is precious during the legislative session and schedules are tight, so each interaction must be brief but effective. To have meaningful conversations right from the start, we recommend that you take the time to look at the issues that will be discussed by reviewing the 86th Legislative Agenda. The brief summary in the agenda will give you a base to identify the issues that matter most to you, develop your positions, and start preparing questions around your main message. 
    View Garland Chamber Legislative Agenda 
    View GISD Legislative Agenda
    View City of Garland Legislative Agenda
  2. Acquaint Yourself with the Individuals You’ll Meet
    1. Rep. Angie Chen Button – Chair, Urban Affairs Committee
      Committee Assignments: Higher Education
    2. Rep. Rhetta Andrews Bowers
      Committee Assignments: Corrections; Juvenile Justice & Family Issues; Local and Consent Calendars
    3. Rep. Victoria Neave
      Committee Assignments: Corrections; Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence
    4. Sen. Nathan Johnson
      Committee Assignments: Administration; Committee of the Whole Senate; Health & Human Services; Veteran Affairs & Border Security; Water & Rural Affairs
    5. Sen. Bob Hall – Chair, Agriculture Committee; Vice Chair, Veteran Affairs & Border Security Committee 
    6. Committee Assignments: Education; Nominations; State Affairs
  3. Prepare for Your Meetings 
  4. The best way to influence your local legislators is by meeting face-to-face, and that can be a little intimidating. As with any new connection, building a relationship is the key to success. Before you tackle the hard-hitting policy questions, take the time to get to know your local legislators. Ask questions like, “What changes do you see coming?” or, “What gave you the motivation to become a local legislator?” to help build trust. Once you establish a rapport with legislators, it opens the door to dive a little deeper and ask questions about specific issues. If you plan to ask the legislator for a follow-up, don’t forget to leave a business card.
  5. Make that Face-to-Face Meeting Happen
  6. In a large group, there’s almost always several people who all want to talk to the same person at the same time, and as we already said, time is in short supply. Take initiative and go to the person you want to talk to. You may need to wait a moment for a break in conversations, but when you see an opportunity, take hold of it and extend your hand to make an introduction. Be respectful of others in the room by keeping your comments concise. This is where your earlier “main message” preparation will come in handy! Remember, ask for a business card to remember the representative’s name and have information to follow up.
  7. Make Local Connections Too
  8. Everyone attending Legislative Days is an influencer or someone who can be influenced. Don’t go to Austin with the mindset of meeting only representatives – you’ll miss the opportunity to meet the other people in the room! This trip is a great opportunity to network with Garland area stakeholders, and it’s likely there’s someone in the meeting room or at the dinner table that can help you in a way you didn’t realize.

Once you’re back in North Texas, take the time to follow up with everyone you met during Legislative Days. If you don’t get an immediate response, don’t be discouraged! It’s a busy season for legislators, and everyone involved in the session. You will have met a lot of people in a short period of time, and they all did too. It will take a few days to catch up on correspondence.

Garland is taking a great group to the Capitol and we have a great chance to impact real change in the city, region and state. We look forward to all that will be accomplished.

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