What is the Legislative Action Network?

help build a stronger U of M

The Legislative Action Network helps U of M supporters:

  1. Stay informed about politics, higher education, and the legislative process
  2. Learn about simple, easy ways to help the U of M succeed at the Capitol

The Legislative Action Network engages students, alumni, faculty, and community members to build a stronger U of M for years to come.

Let's get started!


What do I need to know?

your ideas and stories

can shape legislation

Here's a quick sketch of the legislative process.

A person has a bright idea about how all of our lives could be better. That person decides to take their idea to the Legislature.

The bright idea then begins its great legislative adventure quest. This includes being introduced in both chambers, discussed in committees, debated and amended, possibly dissected and put back together, and eventually being voted on by the entire Legislature.

And here's the important part: Legislators shape legislation to help people in the real word. And how do they know exactly how legislation will affect people in the real world? YOU have to tell them! Real stories about how a potential law will affect people's lives are essential to good public policy. And that is why the Legislative Action Network exists: to help you tell your story to legislators.

Finally, when the bright idea emerges as a bill after its great legislative adventure quest, it is taken to the governor's desk for signature. Once the governor signs it—poof!—that bright little idea becomes a shiny new law that affects us all.

The truth is that every Minnesotan has a stake in the success of the University of Minnesota. The U of M…

  • Discovers new knowledge that pushes Minnesota forward
  • Educates Minnesota's future leaders, health care workers, engineers, and entrepreneurs
  • Creates thousands of Minnesota jobs

The U of M changes lives in every corner of our state.

So, if you want to help secure a better result for the U of M at the Legislature, please take a moment to discover more about…

How can I do my part?

tell your story

Good news: You don't need to be an expert in politics or higher education policy to make a real difference at the Capitol. You just need a willingness to tell your story about how the U of M makes a positive difference in your life or the life of someone you care about. Personal stories are essential to good policy. They show lawmakers the real-world impact of the decisions they make and help secure a better result for the U of M.

Do you want to do your part to ensure a bright future for the U of M?

Great!

Here's how

  1. Step 1
    Register to vote

    Here's the truth: lawmakers at the Capitol in St. Paul and at the Federal Capitol in Washington D.C. are in the process of shaping your future. The decisions they make will profoundly affect your life and the lives of those you care about. Why not have a say in that process? Vote. Soapbox moment over. Register to vote at your current address and vote in every election.

  2. Step 2
    Join the Legislative Action Network

    Free membership allows you to receive the latest updates on what's happening at the Capitol in St. Paul and in Washington, D.C. and how it affects the University of Minnesota. Read the updates. Feel the joy of expanding your legislative knowledge.

  3. Step 3
    Find your representatives

    Think of these individuals as your friends. They are working hard to improve the quality of life in your community. Find out who represents you at the Capitol in St. Paul and in Washington, D.C.

  4. Step 4
    Watch for action alerts

    Starting around the first of the year, stay tuned for action alerts sent by the Legislative Action Network. These alerts make it easy to take action on important legislative issues in a timely manner. When you get an action alert, drop everything and take action! It just takes a few minutes to tell your story and make a difference.

  5. Step 5
    Build relationships

    In between action alerts, build a relationship with your local legislators. Elected officials count on their constituents to let them know what is important in their communities. Building relationships with your elected officials is a great way to influence the legislative process and to promote the University of Minnesota.

Tips on building relationships

Written Communication (Letter/Postcard/Email)

A thoughtful letter illustrating a personal story often makes a great impression.

  • Use correct titles and names for the elected official.
  • State your purpose in the first paragraph. If your letter pertains to a piece of legislation, identify it. Keep your letter to a single page.
  • Explain why you support or oppose the issue. Try to use local examples.
  • Keep the tone positive and courteous.
  • Indicate that you would appreciate a reply containing the legislator's position on the issue.
  • Follow up. If you agree or disagree with their position or the vote they cast, let them know.

Tweet

Tweeting legislators is a surprisingly effective method of communication.

  • Find the Twitter handles of your elected officials and tag them to say hello, share your opinion, or ask a question.
  • Think about including any relevant hashtags that may be available.
  • And don't forget that a positive and courteous tone applies to social media too.

Phone Call

Keep in mind phone calls are often answered by staff members or aides.

  • Ask to speak with the legislative aide who handles your issue. If they are not available, you may leave a message. If you speak with someone other than your elected official, take down her/his name and title.
  • Identify yourself by name and the organization you represent or town you're calling from.
  • Say why you are calling. Focus on one or two points. Ask your legislator for his/her position on this issue. Don't assume that your legislator has knowledge of it. Be respectful. Be prepared to give local examples.
  • Request a written response to your phone call if you did not speak directly with your elected official. If the legislator needs more information, provide it as soon as possible.
  • Thank the person who took the phone call for their time and consideration.

In Person Meeting

  • To request a meeting, call the office of the elected official. State that you are a constituent, give several dates and times you are available, and indicate what you want to discuss.
  • Arrive 5-10 minutes early.
  • Plan for a brief meeting. Most last no more than 15-20 minutes.
  • Thank the person for their time.
  • As a follow-up, send a thank you to the elected official and her/his staff.
  • Restate your understanding of their position to reiterate any support they may have expressed for your issue or cause. Answer any questions they had that you did not get to address in person. If the meeting outcome was inconclusive, this is your opportunity to address the issue again.

Letter to the Editor

The opinion page is a widely read section of the newspaper. Letters to the editor are often saved by elected officials and can indicate to opinion leaders that an issue is on the public's mind. Even a few letters throughout Minnesota can spur increased news coverage and renewed attention.

Your story is a powerful way to bring to life your support for the University of Minnesota. Feel free to mention the broad importance of the U of M, but be sure to talk about your personal connection as well.