Ever heard of “Sarpy County Sundays” or “Bellevue Cupcakes”?
“Bellevue Cupcakes” happened last week in the Unicameral and it was a big deal. Kidding aside – just like no two days on the Legislative floor are alike, each business day is filled with different posters, people, and prepared food.
First, let’s talk posters. Any group can reserve the first floor rotunda for informational displays. So, if an organization is looking to offload some informational swag – the location next to the information desk is a prime spot. Educational posters and displays about everything from heart disease, human trafficking, and atheism can be found on display in a given week. Some displays are more advanced and some are just your variety science project poster board quality.
For more direct advocacy – lobby days are often connected to specific bills. A lot goes into the organizing of T-shirts, buttons, and ensuring turn-out. Whether the group is “pulling senators off of the floor” or sitting in the balcony in force watching floor debate, the goal is visibility. Sometimes it doesn’t work out as planned. Alas, a lobby day isn’t the only way…
Planning to host an educational breakfast or lunch with senators and staff in the Capitol? Great, that is a good way to connect – dare I say the best way – since off campus events are generally less attended because of the time constraints during session. A room can be reserved with the Clerk’s office. However, a senator/their staff must submit the room reservation request on your behalf. There are only two rooms available for food…let me repeat – TWO ROOMS – and they are a hot commodity and often booked well in advance. Don’t dismay though, sometimes you can get lucky with a last minute request.
Informational displays, lobby days, and breakfast/lunches are part of the machinery of session, but that doesn’t diminish their individual impact. The point is, if a senator or their staff casually walks by your “food room” over lunch (that room you reserved 2 months ago and for which you diligently collected RSVP’s) and can’t stay the whole time, try not to put too much weight into it. Sometimes that senator who stopped by for 10 minutes took time away from a meeting because they felt like your group or issue was important. And sometimes, the person who sits politely the entire event and listens to your presentation is just simply excited that you ordered pizza instead of sandwiches.
On the same note, if your informational display has been up for days and no one has called you, don’t be discouraged. Every person who walks through the building has seen it and you can bet it made an impact on at least one person – maybe the right person.