Legislative Education Group ToolKit (LEGs)

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Legislative Education Groups
"Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world." Margaret Mead

Goal
Legislative Education Groups is a member-to-member education and mobilization project sponsored by the Ohio Federation of Teachers. The goal of LEGs is to develop a rapid response to policy-making decisions affecting our members at the state and federal levels. Local officers will select LEGs Building Liaisons who will implement a structure that generates responses and work with the local LEGs coordinator to coordinate LEGs activities in the building.

Program Implementation
• Regional meetings conducted by OFT/AFT staff with local leadership to explain program.
• Present LEGs information at a Building Reps/membership meeting.
• Local Officers recruit and appoint of local LEGs Local Coordinator and LEGs Building Liaison.
• OFT offers training workshop for local coordinators (review of legislative issues/agenda, membership lists, responsibilities, statehouse link web site, etc.
• Local Presidents send letters to state representatives and Senators identifying LEGs Coordinator and detailing program (OFT will provide draft).
• Distribute resource packet to all Local Coordinators and building/department liaisons.
• Schedule meeting between Local LEGs Coordinators (and/or LEGs Building Liaisons or COPE/Legislative Committee) state representative/senator, as approved by local President.

LEGs Program Operation
• Local President will appoint LEGs Coordinator and Building Liaisons (not elected positions).
• Liaisons educate members on legislative agenda/issues by distributing one-page leaflets, bulletin board pieces, newsletter articles, etc.
• LEGs" program requires updated membership lists.
• Liaisons introduce members to "state house link" web site and encourage use.
• Liaisons use various other methods for members to contact state legislator, i.e., sample/form letters to home/district offices, authorization forms, phone calls, call forwarding, faxes, post cards, etc.
• Local Coordinators and Building/department Liaisons schedule school visit with state representative/senator with approval of local President.
• Local Coordinator and Building/Department Liaisons establish "outreach" program and develop coalitions with parents, community and business groups, and school boards in support of legislative issues.

Position Description – LEG’s Local Coordinator

Activities
Work with the OFT Legislative and Political Coordinator and local President to develop a grassroots mobilization structure that can respond to requests for witnesses generate emails, phone calls, and letters from members to state and federal policy makers.
1. Recruit LEGs Building Liaisons at each worksite and convene meetings for orientating and updating.
2. Develop communications mechanism such as a phone tree, blast fax system or email program to quickly communicate.
3. Develop delivery system or use existing one, that facilitates literature distribution at the worksite and distribute alerts to members.
4. Assist OFT staff in organizing a lobby day and identifying volunteers to testify before General Assembly and State school board
5. Share legislative action alerts with members via email, fax or phone tree.
6. Provide feedback to local President and OFT Legislative Coordinator.

Relationships
Work with LEGs Building Liaisons and local President to generate responses and plan activities for members. Local Coordinators will report to OFT’s Legislative Coordinator.

Training
LEGs Local Coordinator and OFT Legislative Staff will provide the orientation

Duties
Assist, recruit, and monitor legislative activities within your local.
 
Position Description - Legs Building/Department Liaisons

Activities
Work with the LEGS Local Coordinator and COPE chair to:
1. Educate members on Legislative activities by distributing literature and convene informational meetings.
2. Monitor legislative activities.
3. Mobilize members in the building to communicate with legislators.
4. Schedule worksite meeting/visits with legislators, recruit volunteers/activists.
5. Solicit COPE contributions and distribute political literature on issues and authorization forums.
6. Share legislative alerts with members via worksite mail, email, fax or phone tree.
7. Provide feedback to the local LEGs Coordinators contact and OFT Legislative Coordinator about needs.

Relationships
Work with LEGs local Coordinator and local President to generate responses and plan activities for members.

Training
LEGs Local Coordinator and OFT Legislative staff will conduct orientation session for building liaisons.

Duties
Assist recruit educate and mobilize members, monitor and generate legislative within the building.

Ohio Federation of Teachers Legislative Education Groups Fax Authorization Form
I hereby authorize the ( Local Name) to send a fax on my behalf to my state representative and state senator or member of Congress on the following issues:
1. o No vouchers
2. o School funding
3. o Higher education funding
4. o No expansion of charter schools
5. o Elementary and Secondary education
6. o Health care issues
7. o Retirement

Name (print)
Street Address City and Zip Code Worksite
Signature/ Email
Return to  Building Rep or LEG’s Liaison

OFT LEGS SIGNATURE RELEASE FORM
LEGs provides OFT’s members an opportunity to have their voices heard in the formation of education public policy in Ohio. On occasion members will not have appropriate technologies to express their view directly in those instances OFT will provide another way for members voices to be heard. Completing the following form below will allow us to sign your name to letters that you grant your permission.
I, _______________________________ do hereby permit the Ohio Federation of Teachers to send letters to state policy makers with my signature.

How to Schedule a meeting with your legislator

How to Find your Legislator

• Go to www.oft-aft.org, and click on Statehouse Link
• Type in your zip code under "Find your Legislator." You will have to use your address if you don’t know your zip plus four.
• Click on state (in top right corner of the page) to find your state legislators.
• Click on the Legislator’s name to get their contact information.
• You can schedule a meeting by using their email address or by calling them. It is best to contact their Columbus office to schedule the appointment.

Asking for an appointment phone/email script (Columbus Visit)
Hello, (give name), I am a teacher with the (your school district name) and [I will be attending the Ohio Federation of Teachers Convention in Columbus or making a field trip.] I would like to schedule an appointment to meet with Rep. ______ or Senator ____ on Day, Date and Time.
Key Issues
• School Employees Health Care
• Special Education Vouchers
• Merit Pay Plan
• Charter School Accountability
If you have any problems or questions contact Darold Johnson at djohnson@oft-aft.org.

Hosting a School Visit
"I really enjoyed myself; it was a good visit." "The student’s questions were very interesting and I enjoyed talking with your members." "I didn’t expect to be working with OFT, but I think we can make a difference." – Legislator after visiting Cleveland Heights High School

We also challenged our members to have legislators visit their schools. We had our Cleveland Heights local agree to host the Chair of the House Education Committee prior to the Convention. The visit was successful for three reasons. First, the Chairman enjoyed himself. Second, our members, after some coaching provided an opportunity for the Chair, a self proclaimed conservative, to meet with administrators, students, parents and our members and all were impressed with him. Third, it allowed us to show other locals they could do the same event with the same success. A visit to schools is important because it allows legislators to see firsthand the positive work our members are doing.

We also had several other locals who had state legislators visit their schools, such as Oregon City, and Greenon {both are small locals} along with Toledo, Cleveland, and Cincinnati.

Planning a School Visit
Sample Invitation
When inviting your legislator to visit your school Mondays, Thursdays or Fridays are better for state legislators and Mondays and Fridays are better days for federal legislators. These days help you avoid most session days and voting sessions.

Sample Confirmation
This is to confirm your visitation at Beck Elementary School on September 21, 2001 at 12:30. Beck is located in German Village. It is one of four model programs in our School district. These programs are designed to document what works and replicate it.
If you have any questions you can reach me by phone at 257-2572 or on my mobile phone at 614-777-7777. I look forward to seeing you then.
Agenda 90 minutes
Welcome 5 minutes
Tour of school 5-10 minutes
Reading to a class 10 minutes
Meeting Parents, teachers,
administrators 20-30 minutes
Speaking students 30 minutes
Wrap-up 10 minutes
Making your Voice Heard in Columbus

How do I attend or Testify Before a Senate or House Committee?
Anyone may attend a committee hearing and/or present testimony on a bill that is scheduled for a hearing. All sessions and committee hearings are open to the public. Copies of bills and resolutions before a committee for hearing are available free of charge in the Bill room in the Statehouse basement. Some bills, such as the appropriations bill, are lengthy.

The first hearing of a bill usually is reserved for the sponsor to present the bill or resolution to the committee. The second hearing is usually reserved for other proponents, while the third hearing is reserved for opponents.
Conference committees are the exception to this rule. They don’t hold hearings since the opportunity to offer testimony has already been made available and the committee's members usually have served on the respective House and Senate committees that considered the bill.

Testifying Before a Senate or House Committee
You should prepare written testimony that can be submitted to the Committee Chair because not all committee members may be present to hear your testimony. The most effective testimony is concise (3 to 5 minutes), clear and documented.

Copies of bills are available in the bill room in the basement of the Statehouse, but make sure you receive the current version as indicated at the top of the bill (e.g., Amended, Substitute, or As Passed by the House). OFT can also provide you with summaries of a bill or you could go to the legislative web site: {www.legislature.state.oh.us}
In order to testify, you will be required to complete a witness form that identifies you and whether you are a proponent, opponent or interested party. Registered lobbyists must identify themselves.
Nameplates will help you identify the committee's members and its chair, who will introduce you. You may be given a specific amount of time to present your testimony, which may require you to summarize your written remarks.
 
At the conclusion of your testimony, committee members may ask questions. You respond by first recognizing the Chair and then the member who posed the question, (e.g. Mr. Chair, Senator Hall…).