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Lobbying Secret: Advocacy is Easy!

August 17, 2010
by Chris Campbell
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NAADAC’s Government Relations staff would like to take a moment to emphasize an important point about legislative advocacy: it’s surprisingly easy! It’s also necessary: unless counselors speak up, lawmakers simply won’t pay attention. Members of Congress are now home for a month-long district work period, providing constituents with an excellent opportunity to share their concerns. The following are steps you can take to make your voice heard!

Locate Senators' and Representatives' district offices and phone numbers either by looking in your local phone book under the "Government Listings" section of the yellow pages, or by hitting the internet at http://capwiz.com/naadac, http://www.senate.gov, or http://www.house.gov, and following links to their personal web pages.

Call your lawmaker’s office and ask the scheduler for the dates and times of local town hall meetings the Senator or Representative will hold. Town hall meetings provide an opportunity, albeit brief, to raise an issue directly with a member of Congress. Attendees are typically allowed to raise a particular issue during open discussion, or by waiting in line to ask the Senator/Representative a question. If you get a chance, simply introduce and identify yourself, and ask your question, hopefully making it clear what you'd like the Senator/Representative to do. By doing this, you've now publicly put the Senator/Representative on the spot! Following are sample questions for town hall meetings:

• What are you doing to support increased federal funding for the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant, and other substance abuse prevention and treatment programs?
• “Have you signed on as a co-sponsor, and do you support the “HITECH Extension for Behavioral Health Services Act of 2010,” which would amend current law to make n providers of addiction services eligible for Health Information Technology funds?
• For Representatives] “Are you a member of the bipartisan Addiction, Treatment, and Recovery Caucus and/or the Youth Drug Prevention Caucus?”

Alternatively, you can call your Senator’s/Representative’s office and schedule your own meeting, with either the member of Congress or a staff member. Simply call the office, identify yourself, and state that you’d like to talk to the Senator/Representative or a staff member about your particular issue. NAADAC’s government relations staff is at your service with information on the issues facing counselors to prepare you in talking with your lawmakers. Bring a business card, and feel free to invite colleagues if they can speak to the issue you’re lobbying on. The more the merrier.

For assistance or more information, contact Chris Campbell, Director of Government Relations at 800.548.0497, ext. 129, or ccampbell@naddac.org. Also, be sure to check out the NAADAC Advocacy web site at www.naadac.org.

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Chris Campbell

Christopher Campbell is the Director of Government Relations for NAADAC, The Association for...