Lobbying in State Legislatures

In order to promote state legislation which is inthe best interests of faculty and non-teaching professionals at AAUP chapters in each state, members engage in lobbying efforts either through a local chapter office, a state Committee R, or the State Conference office. In some states all three approaches are used.

To facilitate the maximum impact through whatever means AAUP members employ, certain pre-conditions should exist. Chapter/conference staff share responsibility for the development of those pre-conditions.

If the state conference employs a staff member, one of that individual’s responsibilities is the accumulation and subsequent distribution of pertinent legislative information to the appropriate AAUP members in the state (Conference Committee R, chapter Committee R, chapter staff member, chapter president, Conference Executive Committee, all members). Summaries of important bills should be distributed to the appropriate individuals, accompanied by an estimate of the likelihood of passage. Also, the legislative network should be alerted as to the nature of the lobbying effort that would be appropriate to a particular bill (e.g., phone contact, e-mail, face-to-face meeting).

Staff members at the chapter level should be aware of important bills under consideration and should play a role in encouraging lobbying efforts. This may involve: participation in coalitions with other chapters and/or representatives of higher education faculty within the state; giving direction to a lobbyist employed by the chapter; working with chapter Committee R members or with chapter leaders; contact with chapter members. Thus, it is imperative that chapter staff become cognizant of legislative activity. To accomplish this, the staff member may wish to take the initiative in contacting the state conference office or state Committee R chairperson. Where the state conference is not active in legislative work, the staff member may need to work independently of the conference in alliance with other AAUP chapter in the state.

Chapter staff members can make important contributions to lobbying efforts. For a chapter may have experts in certain areas who are willing to testify before legislative committees or to provide assistance to legislators in the formulation of legislation, especially of a technical nature. THe chapter staff may also become aware of faculty members who have personal relationships with key legislators and who would be willing to assist in legislative efforts for the chapter or conference. In some chapters, the staff are active politically andmay have contacts with legislators. Since the chapter staff are the first link in the legislative network from the state conference or coalition to the local chapter, staff awareness of and inte3rest in legislative actions is crucial to an effective lobbying effort.

Staff members directly involved in lobbying at the state capitol should develop an information based regarding legislative action. Included in that base should be information concerning key legislators (such as colleges attended) and their influential staff members. Furthermore, influential persons inthe executive office as well as significant staff members in state agencies should be identified and contacted through direct and indirect means (personal conversations, emails, letters, newsletters, memoranda) when important matters are being considered.

Lobbying staff must also become aware of the shift of influence depending upon the nature of the legislation being considered (e.g., legislators who are important in effective labor law revision may not be the most influential in appropriation matters).

Some chapters and conferences have developed political effectiveness through the formation of Political Action Committees (PACs). These can be effective if fundraising efforts are successful. However, those chapters and conferences that have established PACs are in the minority. Some efforts to establish AAUP PACs have not met with success because of low member interest.