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Drug court funding is in jeopardy. Two years ago, funding for the Drug Court Discretionary Grant Office was cut 75% from $40 million to $10 million. The President’s budget for 2008 eliminates funding for the Drug Court Discretionary Grant Program altogether. The time to act is now. The time to take drug courts to scale is now. The time to restore funding for drug courts is now. We need your voice! There has never been a more critical time for drug court professionals to be heard in the Halls of Congress. Register to attend the 13th Annual NADCP Training Conference and take the opportunity of being in Washington, DC, to meet with your members of Congress. On Thursday, June 14, NADCP will sponsor Capitol Hill Day, where drug court professionals can “Make our Mark!” Thousands of drug court professionals will schedule meetings with their Members of Congress. NADCP will provide bus transportation to Capitol Hill from the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel on Thursday afternoon. Conference attendees will receive legislative packets, complete with the most current information on the efficacy of drug courts, to take to their meetings on the Hill. Capitol Hill Day will culminate in a rally on Capitol Hill Thursday evening, where Awards will be presented to Members of Congress for their exceptional support of drug courts throughout the nation. This page offers more details on Capitol Hill Day, including tips for scheduling meetings with your Members of Congress, websites for critical information, and frequently asked questions. We look forward to seeing you in Washington, DC, in June!!
SETTING UP A MEETING WITH YOUR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
As you prepare to attend the 13th Annual NADCP National Training Conference in Washington, D.C., we hope you will take the time to schedule a meeting with your representatives and senators to inform them of the work your drug court has done, and to urge them to support full appropriations to the Drug Court Discretionary Grant Program. If more than one member of your drug court team is attending the conference, you may want to coordinate in scheduling and taking your message to Capitol Hill. On Thursday, June 14, NADCP is organizing Capitol Hill Day – “Making our Mark!” Drug court professionals are encouraged to schedule meetings with their representatives and senators for that afternoon. (If your senator or representative is not available on Thursday, however, we encourage you to schedule a meeting for whatever time is possible while you are in Washington, D.C.) After a day of meeting with Members of Congress, conference attendees will rally on Capitol Hill to support funding for drug courts. Buses will shuttle conference attendees between the Marriott Wardman Park and Capitol Hill from 2:00 pm until 8:00 pm. The first buses will leave the conference hotel for Capitol Hill after the Capitol Hill Day luncheon, where a member of the United States Congress will address the audience. Scheduling a meeting with your senator or representative may be difficult, but this guide is designed to help you make the most of your opportunity. To find the names and contact information for your members of Congress, go to http://www.house.gov/ and http://www.senate.gov/
Before April 19, 2007
1) Call the Washington, D.C., Office of your Members of Congress
Each Member of Congress maintains a staff, and specific issues are assigned to individual staff members. In your initial call, ask for the person who is “responsible” for the Member’s Justice Department Appropriation work. When you reach the staffer, tell them who you are and that you would like to set up a meeting with your Member of Congress. Tell them what dates you will be in Washington, and what you want to discuss. It is important that you clearly identify the issue(s) you want to address in your meeting. If the staffer thinks you’re only dropping in to have your picture taken, they may be less willing to follow up on your request. Some good topics for discussion would be:
1) Provide an update on your local and state’s drug court activity; 2) Provide an update on state and national drug court research; 3) Encourage your Member of Congress to support full funding for drug courts NADCP will provide all conference attendees with a set of national talking points, but it will be the state-specific information your representative or senator will find most interesting. Important note: Make sure you get the name of the staffer, because you will be sending them a follow up letter. Another important note: The Member’s schedule is actually set by a staffer called the “scheduler”, who will NOT be the same person as the staffer in charge of drug courts. Ask for their name as well, and ask if a copy of your follow up letter should be sent to the scheduler.
Before May 4, 2007
2) Send a follow-up letter
Congressional offices field hundreds of phone calls a day. To ensure your request does not get lost in the shuffle, you need to send a follow-up letter. The follow-up letter is a formal request for a meeting, and should clearly spell out who you are, what you want to talk about, and when you will be available for a meeting. The letter should be addressed to your Member of Congress, and should carbon copy the staffer with whom you spoke in your initial phone call. The request letter should be short and simple. Important note: Due to security concerns, mail addressed to Congress can take weeks to arrive. Thus, you should, email and fax a copy of the letter to the Washington office, to the attention of the staffer responsible for drug courts.
3) Make a follow-up call
A week or two after you fax your request letter, you should follow up with a phone call to the staff person. Ask them if they received the request letter. If they did not, fax it to them again. The staffer may ask you for additional information about your drug court, or about drug courts in your state. If you do not have the information, please contact NADCP, and we will try to assist you. If the staffer tells you that the Member of Congress is not available on the days you’ve requested, don’t despair. Meeting with the staffer can still be
productive. If the staffer offers to meet with you, accept their offer and try to set up the date and time.
Before June 8, 2007
4) Re-Confirm Meeting
Before you leave for Washington, D.C., contact the staff person to confirm your meeting date and time. Life moves pretty quickly on Capitol Hill, and staffers often rearrange their schedules at the last minute.
5) Prepare for your Meeting
NADCP will provide you with a Legislative Packet at the National Conference. The Legislative Packet will include basic information about drug court and the needs of the programs nationwide. You are also encouraged to bring information about your local program to share with your representatives and senators. Know what you want to say. Regardless of who you meet with, you may have no more than 10-15 minutes to state your case. Also, be prepared to listen! Sometimes Members of Congress and their staff are content to hear you out, but they may also come to the meeting with questions of their own. If you can answer their questions, do so. If you cannot, tell them you’ll get back to them with the information.
5) Follow-up after your Meeting
Following-up on your meeting is a good way to ensure that your meeting has a lasting impact. You should send a letter to your Member of Congress and the staffer thanking them for taking the time to meet with you. If there were any unanswered questions during the meeting, try to send them that information as well. Again, be sure to fax or email your follow up letter.
“Capitol Hill Day” FAQs
1. How do I find out who my members of Congress are and how do I find their contact information? 2. How do I schedule my Congressional meeting and on what day should it be scheduled? 3. What if my Congress member is unable to meet with me on the afternoon of Thursday, June 14th? 4. How many members of my team should go to each Hill meeting, and which members should attend? 5. How should I prepare for my Congressional visit? 6. What is the schedule for Capitol Hill Day? 7. How do I get to the Hill and how do I get back? 8. What should I wear to my Congressional visit? 9. How do I find my Congress member’s office once I get to the Hill? 10. What should I bring with me to my Hill visit? 11. What materials will NADCP provide for me and how do I pick them up? 12. What should I expect when I arrive at my Congressional meeting? 13. What should I ask my member of Congress to do? 14. How do I follow-up with my members of Congress after the meeting? 15. How do I let NADCP know how my Capitol Hill Day meeting went? 16. Where is the Hill Day Rally and what is the program for the Rally? 17. Will there be any conference sessions on the afternoon of Thursday, June 14th? 18. What accommodations are there for conference attendees with disabilities?
1. How do I find out who my members of Congress are and how do I find their contact information? To find the names and contact information for your members of Congress, go to http://www.house.gov/ and http://www.senate.gov/.
2. How do I schedule my Congressional meeting and on what day should it be scheduled? The “Setting Up A Hill Meeting” instructional manual above offers helpful tips to contacting your Congressional Members, gives a general time-task plan for setting up meetings and provides insight into the process of coordinating and finalizing your trip to Capitol Hill.
3. What if my Congress member is unable to meet with me on the afternoon of Thursday, June 14th? If your member of Congress is not available on the day you have requested, do not despair. You can try to schedule a meeting for another day, or you can ask to meet with the staffer who handles the Justice Department Appropriation work for the Member. Meeting with a staffer can be extremely productive. Do not be disappointed if you have a meeting scheduled with your
member, but you are asked to meet with a staffer when you arrive. Treat a meeting with a staffer exactly as you would a meeting with your member of Congress.
4. How many members of my team should go to each Hill meeting, and which members should attend? If more than one member of your team is attending the conference, you will need to decide whether everyone attends each scheduled Congressional meeting. Some team members may feel more comfortable than others meeting with elected representatives and staff. You may decide to rely heavily on those team members who are more familiar with the political process. Logistically, it may be easier to “divide and conquer,” and designate different team members to attend different meetings. We recommend that no more than four people meet with a Congress member at any one time.
5. How should I prepare for my Congressional visit? It is imperative that you have planned out your meeting ahead of time and are prepared to make a polished presentation. If you are going with a group, you should select a spokesperson and you should decide who else will be speaking and what each person will say. You should select someone to take notes. This person will be responsible for following up on any unanswered questions. Your Congressional meeting can be divided into four parts: A. Introductions (3 Minutes) – The spokesperson should briefly introduce everyone. B. Educate About Your Court (5 minutes) – Provide clear, concise information about your court, the problems it addresses, and the people it serves. C. Educate About Your Outcomes (5 – 10 minutes) – Provide statistical evidence of your positive outcomes. For a member of the House, focus on your community. For a member of the Senate, focus on both your community and your state. NADCP will provide you with general statistics, however come prepared to present evidence from your community and state. D. Ask and Closing (5 minutes) – Ask your Member of Congress to reach out to the Members of the Appropriations Committee Leadership to urge that they restore the drug court funding. Ask your Member to personally speak to those Members that she knows on the Committee. Thank your member and leave behind the legislative packet provided by NADCP. Have your picture taken with your member of Congress before you leave. Note: If your member of Congress asks you a question, and you do not know the answer, say that you will find the information after you return home and will provide it to the office in a followup letter.
6. What is the schedule for Capitol Hill Day? There will be a Capitol Hill Day Luncheon at the Marriot Wardman Park Hotel from 12:30 to 1:30 pm. Buses will begin departing for the Hill at 1:30 pm, and will continue back and forth from the hotel to the Hill, with the last bus returning to the hotel at 8:30 pm. We encourage you to schedule your Congressional visits between 2:30 and 6:00 pm. There will be a Capitol Hill Day Rally on Capitol Hill from 6:00 to 7:00 pm.
7. How do I get to the Hill and how do I get back? Buses will run from the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel to Capitol Hill and back beginning at 1:30 pm with the last bus returning to the hotel at 8:30 pm. You may take the bus to Capitol Hill for your Congressional meeting, remain on the Hill for the Capitol Hill Day Rally, and return to the hotel on the bus after the rally.
8. What should I wear to my Congressional visits? We recommend that you wear professional attire. However, please make sure that you wear comfortable shoes, as you may be doing a lot of walking and/or standing. In addition, remember that it may be extremely hot, so try to wear “light” clothing, if possible.
9. How do I find my Congress member’s office once I get to the Hill? Maps of Capitol Hill will be provided at the conference. In addition, NADCP staff members will be on the Hill to greet your bus as it arrives. Our staff members will be able to direct you to the appropriate building.
10. What should I bring with me to my Hill visits? NADCP will provide you with most of the materials that you will need, including talking points, Capitol Hill Day instructions, a map of Capitol Hill, a legislative packet to leave with your member of Congress, and a button. If you have information about drug courts in your community or in your state, you should definitely bring that information. Remember, your representatives in Washington want to know about their drug court programs at home. Make sure that at least one member of your group brings a camera. Note: You will have to pass through security when entering a Congressional building. Thus, it is best to leave all unnecessary items in your hotel room. I.D. is not required when going through security, but carrying I.D. at all times is advisable none-the-less.
11. What materials will NADCP provide for me and how do I pick them up? NADCP will provide you with talking points, Capitol Hill Day instructions, a map of Capitol Hill, a legislative packet of materials to leave with your members of Congress, and a button. If your meeting is scheduled for the afternoon of Thursday, June 14th, you will pick up your taking points, Capitol Hill Day instructions, a map of Capitol Hill, and the legislative packet at the Hill Day Luncheon. You will be given a button as you get on the bus. If your meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, June 13th or for the morning of Thursday, June 14th, you may request a legislative packet, a copy of the talking points, Capitol Hill Day instructions, and a map of Capitol Hill at the conference registration counter.
12. What should I expect when I arrive at my Congressional meeting? When you arrive, a receptionist will greet you and call the person with whom you are meeting, whether it is your member of Congress or their staffer. More than likely the meeting will take place sitting on couches and chairs in a living room style setting. This may seem informal, but this is where all the work takes place. You will have all the materials you need and you will have done plenty of preparation for the meeting. Now it will be your time to shine! Remember: offer introductions, information about your court, statistical evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of your court, and close by asking your member of Congress what you would like her to do. At the end, leave your legislative packet with your member of Congress. Also, don’t be shy! Ask to have your picture taken with your member of Congress. Offer to provide the office with a copy once you return home. Also, these photos are great to put in your local newspaper or newsletter.
13. What should I ask my member of Congress to do? After educating your member of Congress about the wonderful outcomes that drug courts produce in your community and state, you will want to ask your member of Congress to support drug courts. Specifically, explain to your member of Congress about the necessity of sustaining federal funding for drug courts through the Drug Court Discretionary Grant Program. Ask your Member of Congress to reach out to the Members of the Appropriations Committee Leadership to urge that they restore the drug court funding. Ask your Member to personally speak to those Members that he/she knows on the Committee.
14. How do I follow-up with my members of Congress after the meeting? Following-up on your meeting is a good way to ensure that your meeting has a lasting impact. You should send a letter to your member of Congress and the staffer you spoke to when arranging your meeting, thanking them for taking the time to meet with you. If there were any unanswered questions during the meeting, try to send them that information as well. Be sure to fax or email your follow up letter in addition to mailing it, as the “snail mail” letter will not arrive in their office for several weeks.
15. How do I let NADCP know how my Capitol Hill Day meeting went? At the conference, we will let you know how to report back to us about your Congressional meetings.
16. Where is the rally and what is the program for the rally? The rally will take place outside from 6:00 to 7:00 pm on Capitol Hill. The exact location is TBA. At the rally, NADCP will honor members of Congress who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to supporting drug courts at the local, state, and national level.
17. Will there by any conference sessions on Thursday afternoon? There will be a limited number of conference sessions on Thursday afternoon for conference attendees who are not attending Hill meetings during that time.
18. What accommodations are there for conference attendees with disabilities? If you will need accessible transportation to the Hill, please speak to an NADCP staff member prior to your Congressional meeting. Once on the Hill, the Congressional Special Services Office (CSSO) provides a variety of services for individuals with disabilities, including wheelchair loans, information about accessible entrances and bathrooms, interpreting services, and assistive listening devices. For more information on these services, you may call CSSO at 202-224-4048 (voice) or 202-224-4049 (TDD).
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