Yesterday afternoon, Mike Davey from the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless spoke at Voice Lessons, a Simpson Housing Services event that brought people together to learn skills to speak to their legislators. The talk was specifically geared towards issue around funding for programs for people experiencing homelessness.
The current legislative session is looking to be a tough one, with cuts almost certain. The sad irony is that we are seeing an ever-increasing need for our services, just at the time when the slashing of programs is looming.
Generally speaking, people tend to shy away from speaking to their legislators, so a visit or phone call can hold a lot of weight. It has been said that every meeting or phone call a senator or representative receives is viewed as representing the sentiments of 100 constituents.
You don’t need to be an expert on the situation. You are a concerned citizen. If you have a passion for or personal experience with an issue, you are an expert.
A few other points brought up at the session:
Be as specific as possible about whatever you are calling about.
If you hear “You are speaking to the choir” from your elected official, remember that the choir can get rusty and need practice. Continue to express your thoughts.
The idea of focusing on what we need in the budget vs. what we have the money for is key.
Be sure to “get the ask.”