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Do’s and don’ts for lobbying legislators

Basic Guidelines for University Employees (excluding Deans) for lobbying legislators

  • Lobbying/Legislative Advocacy activities should not be done on state time or with state resources. Don’t give legislators the chance to make an issue of the process by which you communicate, i.e., don’t use campus letterhead, campus email, campus supplies/services/resources.
  • Use personal stationery and personal time to write legislators on matters other than a single-issue educational policy.
  • Legislative advocacy is to be viewed as communication from individuals as voting constituents – not official communication from the UW.
  • Do communicate with your own legislator any number of times. Don’t communicate with legislators outside your district on more than five issues during a six-month period beginning January 1 and ending June 30, or beginning July 1 and ending December 31 without first checking with your legislative liaison about registering as a lobbyist.

Suggestions for Communication with Legislators

  1. Help your legislator become a higher education expert.
  2. Communicate in terms of advantages to students, taxpayers, and the state. Don’t communicate in terms of advantages to the university.
  3. Be specific about what you want the legislator to do: support, oppose, or amend.
  4. Give concrete examples.
  5. Ask how the legislator plans to vote, what his/her views are. Provide information to help them make an informed decision.
  6. Include your name and home address.
  7. Don’t make assumptions about what the legislator knows.

Wisconsin State Statutes – Lobbying
Definitions (from Ch. 13, Wisconsin State Statutes):

§13.61 Lobbying regulated; legislative purpose. The legislature declares that the operation of an open and responsible government requires that the fullest opportunity be afforded to the people to petition their government for the redress of grievances and to express freely to any officials of the executive or legislative branch their opinions on legislation, on pending administrative rules and other policy decisions by administrative agencies, and on current issues. Essential to the continued functioning of an open government is the preservation of the integrity of the governmental decision-making process. In order to preserve and maintain the integrity of the process, the legislature determines that it is necessary to regulate and publicly disclose the identity, expenditures and activities of persons who hire others or are hired to engage in efforts to influence actions of the legislative and executive branches.

§13.62(10) “Lobbying” means the practice of attempting to influence legislative or administrative action by oral or written communication with any elective state official, agency official or legislative employee, and includes time spent in preparation for such communication and appearances at public hearings or meetings or service on a committee in which such preparation or communication occurs.

§13.62(10g) “Lobbying communication” means an oral or written communication with any agency official, elective state official or legislative employee that attempts to influence legislative or administrative action, unless exempted under s. 13.621.

§13.621(6) Individual right to lobby. Nothing in ss. 13.61 to 13.695 may be applied to or interfere with the right of any individual to engage in lobbying:

§13.621(6)(a) Solely on his or her own behalf; or

§13.621(6)(b) By communicating solely with a legislator who represents the senate or assembly district in which the individual resides, whether or not such communication is made on behalf of the individual or on behalf of another person.

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