Casey Christy, MA, ATC, CSCS
Governmental Relations Committee Co-Chair,
Past President, Athletic Trainers’ Society of New Jersey, Inc.
- When meeting to write language for a bill, get viewpoints from members in various work setting experiences. Utilize the valuable NATA governmental relations resources available to you. The NATA was particularly helpful in developing our talking points for legislator meetings.
- Create a brief, easy-to understand, straight-to-the-point fact sheet outlining the issues for both your legislators and your members (maximum of one-page, front and back). Create a second Q and A document that more extensively covers the issue in greater detail. Use these to educate members and as a “leave-behind” for legislator meetings.
- Anticipate who your opposition is and what their concerns will be. Have answers for each of their concerns. Help your bill sponsor by providing the same response information, and by being completely up front from the very first meeting about who the opposition will be and what they will say.
- Scour your website and other publications for phrases that may be used against you. For example, referring to only “athletic injuries” on your website will be counterproductive to passing a law to remove patient and site restrictions. Make sure your own information can’t be used by opponents to undermine your message.
- Check out course titles used in your state’s athletic training education programs. Course titles that refer to a specific athletic population may be used by the opposition. For example, “Therapeutic Modalities for Athletic Injuries” should read simply read “Therapeutic Modalities,” or “Therapeutic Modalities for Musculoskeletal Injuries.”
- Hire an experienced lobbyist and communicate frequently. At times during my Presidency, we communicated by phone or email several times a week. Invite your lobbyist to all of your governmental relations meetings and conference calls.
- Create a PAC to support legislators and attend legislative events.
- Hold an athletic training day at the state capitol to educate lawmakers. Do blood-pressure screenings, raffle off giveaways (we used autographed sports memorabilia) and serve food. One time we rented a popcorn maker…the smell of popcorn permeated the building and attracted people to our area.
- Arrange for physicians, high profile athletes and others with influence to testify for you at a committee hearing.
- Ask large hospitals, physician groups, your membership and the general public to write to legislators asking for their support.
- Educate, inform and motivate your membership…success relies on numbers. Regularly review the legislative process itself and the issues at hand and why they may be important to the members. Remind them that it is everyone’s responsibility to contribute to our profession’s evolution.
- Develop a phone tree so members can be quickly activated when your bill is approaching a vote.
- Be patient. There are often long periods of time between ladder rungs when trying to pass a bill into law.