New York State Coalition For Aging

1450 Western Ave, Ste 101
Albany, NY 12203
518-463-8656 (Fax)


Advocacy Tips

12 steps to pass legislaion | Legislators - why you should care |
Elements of successful advocacy

12 Steps to Pass Legislation

1. Research issues and community problems
2. Select priority issues
3. Prepare fact sheets and position papers
4. Develop and affiliate with local district and statewide coalitions
5. Get sponsors for legislation, preferably committee chairperson and preferably majority party in each house
6. Visit local legislators in district and in Albany, preferably with constituents, voters. Organize press stories, letters and phone calls to legislators
7. Alert supporters when bill is ready for committee agenda
8. Make sure it passes committee by targeting committee members and by urging their constituents and local stakeholders to pass or move your legislation out of committee
9. Get it to the floor from the Rules Committee or the Ways and Means Committee
10. Get it to pass floor vote
11. Get it sent to the other house and passed
12. Get it signed by the Governor


The goal of meeting with your legislator is to let them know what you concerns are and to let them know that what happens in the Capitol matters at home.

Writing, calling and meeting with your legislator is very important. This correspondence is a written record of your views, interests and positions. Legislators often have their staff attach memos to bills so that they can see who is supporting/opposing bills that they are considering.


- Write on only one issue - this keeps the purpose of the letter clear
- Learn where your legislator stands - state your position clearly. If you know they support your position, thank them. If they oppose your position, give them sound reasons they should change their minds.
- Be persuasive and be factual. Provide background documentation you have to support your position. If you do not know the facts or can't produce them, do not guess, you can always get back to them with information.
- Let your legislator know who you are and who you represent. Say who you represent. If you support or oppose a bill or policy, say so. If you want your legislator to vote a certain way, say so. Be clear about it.
- Use personal examples. Note how the legislation will affect you, your organization, the seniors you serve. Provide real case examples.
- Request a written response. Ask for a response to the letter you wrote.
- Be brief. Try to keep your letter to one page, two at the most.
- Never be abusive or threatening. You do not want to burn any bridges.
- Write again and often. Write different letters on different issues.
- Relationship s are everything.


- Determine in advance who will speak, for how long and on what issues.
- Do not be upset if you meet with staff - they are very important and influential with legislators.
- Stay focused and do not go off on tangents.
- Be prepared for questions/concerns about your position. Develop good arguments to support your points.
- Always have material to leave with legislators and their staff supporting your position.
- Push for action. If you want a legislator to take a position or do something, ask them. Be specific about what you want them to do and follow up if they agree. You may need to have others push for your issue if you cannot get a commitment.

Talking Points for Promoting Your Position
1. It'll save the state money (cost/benefit analysis)
2. It's good for... (i.e. seniors, children, families, caregivers)
3. It pays for itself.
4. It's a demonstration, pilot program or is short-term with specific provisions
5. It works in other places - cite examples

What if..
Your legislator agrees with you:
- Thank them
- Ask them to play an important role by cosponsoring the bill, speaking to the media, speaking to other lawmakers, convincing the leadership to pass it, etc.

Your legislator is undecided:
- Determine what his/her reservations are and which are most important to them
- Offer to get any additional information he/she would like.
- Get other groups to meet with him/her to discuss his/her concerns.
- Keep in touch and ask when they plan to decide how to vote on the bill.

Your legislator disagrees with you:
- Determine how strongly opposed the legislator is and try to change their mind
- Determine what or who is the most influencing opposition.
- Try to organize pressure if you judge that it will help.
- If a member cannot be swayed, don't waste any more time