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AACA LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE REPORT
The focus of legislation, national, state, or local is of increasing concern to the members of the Antique Automobile Club of America.
Revision of the AACA Legislative Policy was considered and approved by the directors at the October 8, 1993 Hershey, Pennsylvania National Board of Directors Meeting. The revised Policy, to be published in the 1994 AACA Policy and Procedure Manual, is as follows:
AACA LEGISLATIVE INFRASTRUCTURE
Feb, 21 1999 — In order to more effectively communicate with Chapters and Regions concerning Legislative matters, an infrastructure has been established that looks at the Geographic and Membership population of the areas of the country; and grouped them accordingly to enable the transfer of Legislative information both up and down the infrastructure.
This infrastructure is comprised of four Divisions. The East, Southeast, Central and Western.
|EAST DIVISION||Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Quebec, and New Brunswick, District of Columbia, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina.|
|SOUTHEASTERN DIVISION||Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina.|
|CENTRAL DIVISION||Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Ontario, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas, Missouri, and Manitoba.|
|WESTERN DIVISION||Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Hawaii, British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan.|
The Divisional Coordinators are members of the Legislative Committee and as such coordinate information between the Regions and provide a conduit for information to Areas. They also will make recommendations to the committee as to policy and action necessary to resolve Legislative matters as they occur. They will also provide action items to be presented to the AACA board via the Legislative Vice President.
Divisional Representatives should maintain an information level or knowledge in concert with the State Representatives to insure compliance with the Clean Air Act and to stay on top of events happening at the local level which may require action from other States or the Legislative Committee. They should also meet periodically with State Representatives to coordinate information as well as to stay informed on matters pertinent to Legislation. This means of communication can be visual or via telephone or written correspondence. Divisional Representatives should be also cognizant of other organizations within the DIVISION that are concerned with Clean Air Legislation, and maintain liaison and data exchange with them.
It is also important that State Representatives establish an information level of local laws and regulations about the Clean Air requirements of the State and pass this data on to local Regions and Chapters. This information level needs to remain current, therefore contact with State Legislators and State EPA members needs to occur initially and at least once a Legislative session to insure that new requirements have not been introduced that would affect Regions and Chapters. It is also a good idea to have someone monitor local TV and newspaper articles for changes that may have occurred, and to keep a file on such articles for reference.
Last but hardly least is the local Region and Chapter Legislative Representative who is the key member responsible for keeping the membership informed on matters that may affect the hobby. A local information level should be maintained similar to that of the State Representative, but his should be on the local level with inputs from the City, County, or Community Legislators; and newspaper monitoring and filling of local articles. This local area is one of the most important as all too often some enthusiastic new Legislator strives to gain recognition by pushing ‘Issues beyond the constraints of the Clean Air Act. With up to date information and inputs from the State Representative, local Regions and Chapters could probably guide the Legislator back within established guidelines. Where conditions deviate, signals should be sent to the State and Representatives for resolution. They in turn will help in the resolution and insure that all resources are brought to bear towards a solution to the problem.
It is important that AACA stay informed on the Legislative issues that effect the hobby and it is hoped that this infrastructure will aid in insuring information flow; Therefore keeping members informed of impending Legislation and providing Regions and Chapters with the information to prevent unwanted Legislation that could seriously effect the hobby.
It is critical to realize how you–an individual–can effectively help influence the outcome of legislation. Ask any elected official who is the most effective lobbyist they have ever met, and chances are they all will deliver the same response: their constituents. All politicians are keenly aware of the fact that it is their constituents who hold the key to their political futures. Therefore, constituent concerns are of the utmost concern to politicians.
REMEMBER: Your lawmakers work for you! Since the number one concern of all politicians is to get re-elected, be sure you communicate your concerns with your elected officials. Keep in mind, however, that if your lawmaker is unavailable, speak with a staffer!
Lawmakers often calculate that each letter they receive represents the similar views of 500 other constituents.
WRITING EFFECTIVE LETTERS TO YOUR LEGISLATORS
If you haven’t communicated with an elected official before, and you want to get started, the simplest thing you can do is utilize a time-tested results oriented method–Letter Writing. As a voting constituent, a letter is an easy way for you to let lawmakers know your views on specific issues, encourage them to vote your way, and let them know you’ll watch how they vote on a particular issue and keep that vote in mind come Election Day!
Personally-written letters allow you an opportunity to present your position to your lawmakers without interruption. With that in mind, you’ll want to keep the letter short and to the point, with just enough facts and figures to further enhance your statement. Never lie or make a statement you can’t back up with evidence. Always let your lawmakers know how a specific issue will affect you personally, and make sure he understands that you live and vote in his district or state, and therefore, what affects you may affect your fellow constituents as well.
If you own or operate a business, use your company letterhead. If you’re a member of a civic group, don’t hesitate to mention that. Here are three quick tips you’ll want to refer to when drafting your letter, followed by a sample letter for your review.
HOW TO ADDRESS YOUR REPRESENTATIVE:
- Address your letters to “The Honorable ________________,” It and begin the letter “Dear Senator” or “Dear Representative.” If writing to a Committee Chairman or Speaker of the House, address them as “Mr. Chairman” or “Mr. Speaker.”
- Be Brief & Specific & Always Be Courteous! Letters should never exceed one page, and thus the purpose of your letter should be stated clearly in the first paragraph. If your letter pertains to specific legislation, identify it accordingly. To make sure your letter is as productive as possible, always be courteous, even if you disagree with your representatives position Never threaten, or use abusive language. This only hurts your cause.
- Ask Them to Write Back! Always ask for a response to your letter. You’ll want a hard copy of your legislators’ positions on these issues for future reference and to document their positions.
In addition to letter writing, you may also want to correspond with your representatives via electronic communication. E-mail, FAXes, Telegrams, and Mailgrams are always by which you can get your message to your representative quickly, and are particularly useful when a vote is imminent.
- FAXING — “FAXing” has become increasingly popular as more and more Americans have gained access to FAX machines. In fact, nearly all U.S. Senators and Representatives have published FAX numbers. What’s more, FAXing allows you to send a full, letter-length message to your representatives in a matter of minutes for just the cost of a phone call. When preparing a FAX message to a lawmaker, follow the same basic guidelines used when mailing a letter via regular mail. You may also want to make sure your FAX number is clearly visible, in case your legislator wishes to respond to you via FAX.
- E MAIL — Although not yet as widely available as FAX machines, e-mail (electronic mail) also allows you to communicate with your representatives quickly and easily. Again, follow the basic guidelines for a written letter when you send an e-mail message. As efforts to get the federal government on the “information superhighway” continue, you can be sure more and more congressmen will be accessible via e-mail.
- MAILGRAM/TELEGRAM — Not all of us have access to FAX machines or e-mail, but you can still get a message to your legislators quickly using western Union mailgrams and telegrams. Because mailgrams and telegrams are much more expensive than any of the other means of electronic communication, you will want to keep your message brief and to the point. For example: “strongly urge you to vote in favor of Senate Bill XXXX, the “name of the bill.
- Mailgram — Mailgrams are sent via Western Union and arrive at your legislators office in about one to three days via U.S. mail. To send a mailgram, call your local Western Union office, and recite your message to the clerk. Your message will be printed on your telephone bill or on your credit card bill, based upon the length of the message. To save time and money, compose your message before calling.
- Telegram — Telegrams, while more expensive than mailgrams, will reach your legislator much quicker, usually within four or five- hours, because they are delivered by Western Union. To send a telegram, call your local Western Union office and recite your message to the clerk. Although telegram delivery is available in Washington, D.C., it may not be available in all cities.
PLACING EFFECTIVE TELEPHONE CALLS
You will often find that as bills move through the legislative process, there simply isn’t enough time to write to your legislators, or schedule an appointment to visit them prior to a key vote. When you need to get in touch with your legislator immediately to let him know of your position on Antique Auto issues, your telephone calls become the most effective means for you to communicate your views to Your lawmakers. Below are several tips for you to refer to when placing your calls.
- Identify Yourself as a Constituent! As someone who lives and votes in the lawmaker’s district or state, your phone calls carry the most weight. Calls to representatives outside your district or state are helpful as well, however, be sure to contact your own legislators first.
- State Your Point Quickly and Clearly! Be sure to limit your telephone call to one subject. Be brief but specific–your phone calls should last only a few minutes. Let them know why you I recalling, giving a bill number if possible. REMEMBER: ALWAYS BE COURTEOUS! NEVER threaten or use abusive language. This only discredits you and hurts our mutual cause.
- Request That Your Legislator Follow Up Your Call Will a Letter! Be sure to give your name and home address and request that your legislator follow up your phone call with a letter or personal note. You took the time to call, have your legislator take the time to respond. Get his position in writing on issues important to you!
- Do Not Identify Yourself Solely as an AACA Member! Identify yourself as an AACA member as well as voting constituent, community or business leader, PTA, VFW, American Legion member, or homemaker, lawmakers will find it harder to dismiss your call.
By far, the most effective way to articulate your views to your elected officials and to positively affect the outcome of legislation is to sit down and speak with your lawmakers face-to-face. While these personal visits are extremely productive, they also require the most amount of planning to ensure success. Personal meetings with your lawmaker, as well as attending town meetings, can yield impressive results. When planning a personal visit, refer to the following guidelines.
- Schedule an Appointment. Elected officials have extremely hectic schedules. To ensure that you will have time allotted for you to speak directly with your legislator, call in advance to set up an appointment. If possible, bring some friends or fellow antique car owners along with you to emphasize the support for your position.
- Explain How Proposed Legislation Will Directly Affect You. Use specific examples to show your lawmaker how related bills will jeopardize your rights, the lives of law-abiding citizens, and unduly burden those engaged in lawful hobbies. If the proposed measure will strengthen your rights or benefit car owners, specifically cite examples to support this position.
- Always Be Polite. Nothing is as detrimental to a visit with a lawmaker than rudeness, vulgarity, or threats. Even if you disagree with the position of your legislator, be courteous. Dress professionally to convey the seriousness of your visit.
- Follow Up Your Visit With a Letter. Regardless of how your meeting goes, send a letter to your legislator thanking him for his time, and reiterating the points you discussed. This gesture will go a long way, and possibly allow for future meetings.
- If Your Lawmaker Is Unavailable, Meet With His Staff. Many times your representative may not be available for a meeting. In such cases, try to schedule an appointment with the staffer who is responsible for related issues, or someone on his staff who can bring your concerns to your legislator’s attention. Send a follow-up letter to the staffer you met with as well. Keep in mind that many Congressional staffers later run for office themselves!
ATTEND TOWN MEETINGS
Lawmakers often host town meetings in their districts to tout their achievements and solicit feedback from their constituents. Such meetings are a prime opportunity for your to ask your lawmakers to state their position on the Legislation for the record in an open and public forum.
- Get on the “Invite List” and Attend the Meetings. Write your lawmakers and ask to be put on the invitation list for the lawmaker’s town meetings. If they do not have such a list, ask for information on the next meeting. When you receive word that a town meeting is scheduled, be sure to attend. And, spread the word to throughout the antique auto owning community and encourage others to attend as well.
- Prepare Questions Ahead of Time. Have specific questions in mind, i.e., his position on emissions and zoning.
- Get An Answer. Ask your question clearly, and as simply as possible. If your legislator hems and haws and doesn’t answer your question, calmly repeat the question, i.e., “Do you support repeal efforts?”
- Follow-Up With a Letter. whether you had the opportunity to ask your question or not, follow up with a letter to your representative. Let him know you attended his last town meeting. Ask your question in your letter if your didn’t have an opportunity to do so at the meeting. This letter will ensure your lawmakers take you and your views seriously, and will allow for your to obtain a written response addressing your concerned!