Carrying Your Message to the Capitol

Keeping your legislators informed on the needs of South Dakota's cities and seeing that the South Dakota Legislature meets those needs is up to you. When you get involved in the legislative process and share your expertise and experiences with your legislators, your city and all cities have a stronger voice. No one knows your city or town better than you do. And, therefore, no one can do a better job of telling your elected representative what works and what does not work for your community than you can.

There are several methods for local elected officials to advocate issues before their lawmakers. The more personal and direct the method, the greater the influence.

The following information is designed to help you carry your city's message to the Capitol and to help make your meetings with legislators more effective.

Develop a positive working relationship with your legislator

  • Regularly meet with your legislators to update them on key legislative issues.
  • Invite legislators to city council meetings and explain your issues and what your city faces.
  • Include legislators in important local events.
  • Give credit when credit is due.
  • Hold legislators accountable for their positions.

Have a specific agenda
When meeting with your legislator, know what steps the legislator can take to address the city's concerns and be specific about what action you would like to have taken.

Be prepared to present your case firmly and succinctly, supported by specific examples of the impact of the pending action on your community. You should also be prepared to respond to counter arguments or alternative suggestions.

Connect your community to the issue
Make a clear connection between what you are asking for and the needs of your citizens.

Be responsive and provide additional information quickly, if asked.

Say "thank you!"
Follow-up the conversation with a thank-you letter. In your thank-you letter, summarize the key points of the discussion and spell out areas of agreements and disagreement. Indicate that you will be back in touch soon to check on the progress.

Keep the League informed
Always send copies of your correspondence to and from legislators to the League. League staff can work more effectively with your legislators when we know what you've said and received in return.

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