How to Interact with Your Legislator at the South Carolina Statehouse
The purpose: To meet and build a relationship with the person whose salary you pay – To learn and understand the legislative process – To give your opinions and ideas to help make South Carolina better for our families.
The Result: A “win-win” situation for constituents and their legislators.
Do you want to meet your legislator? They want to meet you! Legislators want to know you care that they are there. Here are some simple steps to achieve some face to face interaction:
- First find out who your Representatives are in Columbia:
- Go to www.scstatehouse.gov and search under “Find Your Legislators” box in the bottom left corner. Once you enter your address, you will be given the names of your National and State Level Legislators. If you click on their highlighted name, you will find all their bio info along with contact information, including their office locations.
- Write down legislator’s names and contact information in a safe place or better yet, add it to your cell phone.
- Planning a visit to Columbia?
- Call your Representative’s offices ahead of time (this is when it is handy to have those numbers in your phone.)
- Leave a message on voicemail or with the Legislative Aide; call back if necessary.
- Your Representative will show you around the statehouse, assist you in getting seated in the balcony, and will introduce you from the floor. Just ask!
- Go to The Chambers upstairs in the State House (either set of stairs will get you there. Go to the desk at either end to fill out a request form with the attendant to speak with your Legislator.
- As long as your legislator is not currently voting or speaking and can easily leave the chamber, he/she will come out to greet and talk with you.
- Stop by your Legislator’s office:
- Meet the legislative aide; introduce yourself/family
- Tell them you are here to see_______ . Be VERY nice and cordial to this aide; they have the power to find your legislator immediately via text.
- Take some kind of goodie or treat for both of your Legislator’s Aides, Senate and House. And don’t forget your Legislator would like a cerci too.
- Fill out the guest register in the office to show you were there; you may add any special requests at this time, such as a call back.
Most, if not all, legislators want to hear from you. Remember, they work for YOU! House Representative for District 37, Donna Wood contends, “There is no dumb question. We love to answer questions.” As for the legislative process, i.e. how a bill is written and becomes law, she says, “I would be glad to talk to anybody about it and walk them through the process.” She understands that there are a lot of unknowns and mentions that she had to learn the processes when coming onboard as a representative. She further exclaims, “Their [constituents] opinions and ideas are valuable.” This helps our legislators become better partners with us in making SC a great place; such interaction empowers the people, the public.
Worried about all those people in suits (lobbyists) milling around upstairs outside the chambers? Don’t let them bother you. Your Legislator would much rather interact with you and your family. “I have more time for constituents than a lobbyist”, states Representative Wood.
And one more thing, remember to be confident, dress neatly, and SMILE! A smile will go a long way and will open many doors.