Many OHV enthusiasts are well-versed in advocacy, what it means, why it is important, and how to effectively engage in the activity, but others may be new to the process and unsure of how to get started. This article is the first in a series designed to help those new to engaging legislatures get up to speed.
Decisionmakers do exactly what their name implies – make decisions. The decisions they make can have an impact on all factors of your life – including your favorite form of recreation. As such it is important to make sure elected officials understand OHV recreation, so that when they vote on legislation that impacts our sport, they will have all the information they need.
Building relationships with your elected officials and their staffs is the most effective long-term strategy. Many OHV clubs have a legislative officer or well-connected members who help them engage. Other clubs and individuals may be struggling with how to become involved, so let’s start by finding out who represents you.
Visit https://www.house.gov/ to identify your U.S. Representative and https://www.senate.gov/ to identify your two U.S. Senators. For the House you will need your zip code and for the Senate you only need your State of residence. It’s that simple.
Once you know who your legislators are, visit their websites to get contact information, location of district offices and, once you are ready, schedule an in-person visit.
By far the most important free resource for determining all sorts of information about federal legislative activities is Congress.gov:
Congress.gov is the official website for U.S. federal legislative information. The site provides access to accurate, timely, and complete legislative information for Members of Congress, legislative agencies, and the public. It is presented by the Library of Congress (LOC) using data from the Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Office of the Secretary of the Senate, the Government Publishing Office, Congressional Budget Office, and the LOC’s Congressional Research Service.
Congress.gov allows you to search all pending federal legislation by bill number or by keyword. It also provides detailed information about where each bill is in the legislative process. You will also be able to search for any legislation your Members have introduced
To identify your State legislators, visit Congress.gov here for direct links to all 50 State Legislature websites. Most of these sites will feature a tool like house.gov that will allow you to identify who represents you by your zip code or address. Many sites will also have tools that allow you to search for legislation that has been introduced as well as lists of standing committees, schedules and contact information.
For those new to engaging legislatures these websites and the information they provide may seem daunting, but please know there are people to help. NOHVCC’s Board of Directors, Partners and staff are all willing to assist. You can reach NOHVCC staff at firstname.lastname@example.org or search for the NOHVCC State Partner or OHV clubs from your State by using the Find My State OHV Resources function on www.nohvcc.org.