You CAN have your voice heard in Augusta… …without going to Augusta!
This Legislative session is proving to be a busy one and March will be especially busy with public hearings and committees working on bills that impact you, your business and our region. It is a full-time job keeping up with the activity in Augusta and you already have a full-time job. That said, those who represent you in Augusta depend on your input and opinions to craft legislation and to make informed decisions about the bills that come before them for their consideration and vote. Even if you can’t get to Augusta, you can impact the decisions made there.
Here are 5 ways you can have your voice heard in Augusta
1. Invite your representative to visit your business
Reach out to your representatives and invite them over for a tour of your operation. This provides a great opportunity for them to learn more about you and your business and for you to learn more about their priorities in Augusta. Legislators want to know their constituents and what you need from them in order to successfully operate your business.
2. Watch for the our “ADVOCACY UPDATE” email
During the legislative session we send our members a weekly email listing of public hearings that may be of interest to our members with links to bill descriptions and status. You can also check out the weekly calendar of public hearings and work sessions yourself at “legislature.maine.gov”. If there is a bill under consideration that you have an opinion about, you can contact your Legislator. You can also listen “LIVE” to the hearing online and submit written testimony.
3. Testifying on a bill
This sounds really daunting and scary, but it really isn’t and your testimony can carry a lot of weight when bills are being considered. If you can get to Augusta to testify at a public hearing in person, great! If not, you can still submit testimony for the committee to consider. For an easy and helpful explanation about how to prepare for and testify at a public hearing check out the Maine Secretary of State website and the “Path to Maine Law Making” in the “kids” section. If you can’t get to Augusta, contact your Senator or Representative to let them know you would like to submit testimony. You can also email the Committee Clerk to ask about submitting testimony via email to the committee members prior to the hearing.
4. Attend a Chamber “HOT STOVE” event
The Chamber invites all member businesses and employees of member businesses to our monthly “Hot Stove” event to engage with our representatives at the local, state and federal level. “Hot Stove” is held one Saturday morning a month during the Legislative session. You will hear from Legislators about their priorities and what they are working on in Augusta as well the “word from Washington”. Most importantly, those who represent you will hear what you are most interested in. Visit “bangorregion.com” for more info.
5. Join an industry association
Chances are their are people in Augusta every day working the hallways and committee rooms on issues relevant to your industry. If you can’t be in Augusta, you can share your interests and areas of concern with them so they can represent you. Some great examples in Maine are the “Retail Association of Maine” and “Hospitality Maine”.
For more information about what is happening in Augusta and who is there representing you, head to http://maine.gov and click on the link for “Government”. There you will find the calendar of public hearings and contact info for your reps in the House and Senate.