If you’re in real estate, politics is your business. Legislation and regulation affect many of the things you do as a real estate agent every day. Did you use the statewide contract for one of your real estate transactions? Take a class to fulfill your continuing education requirements for your real estate license? Assist a seller in completing the Residential Property Condition Disclosure Form?
These are just a few things that are a direct result of the lobbying efforts of your Association. This work is accomplished by REALTOR® volunteers and OAR’s government affairs staff dedicated to promoting the interests of REALTORS® at the State Capitol during the legislative session.
Tips for making your point
Be logical. An emotional appeal is not enough. Back your arguments with facts and substance. Explain how the proposed legislation will affect you.
Be specific. Refer to an issue by bill number and discuss its content. Don’t assume that your elected official can recall the full details of every bill filed during a session. Clearly identify the action (support, oppose, amend) you would like your legislator to take.
Be brief. Give your position and make your point as clearly and concisely as possible. If you are interested in several different bills, don’t dilute what you have to say by trying to discuss them all at once. Phone or write on each individual topic.
Be positive and cordial. Your tone should be businesslike, clear and cordial. Don’t ask the impossible or threaten to vote for someone else next election. On the other hand, saying “well done” makes a legislator feel appreciated and therefore more receptive later.
Make your contact early. As soon as your legislator is elected, get to know him or her if possible. Then, don’t wait until your bill is in committee or awaiting final action on the floor before making contact. Time your contact so that your letter or phone call is received before significant action is taken. Also, contact legislators in other districts where you do business.
Share what you learn. E-mail copies of your correspondence, plus a copy or description of the response, to Josh Cockroft, Senior Director of Government Affairs.
Identify yourself. Sign all correspondence and include your address and telephone number. Your legislator may want to get back in touch with you. When expressing the official view of your company, use your official letterhead.
Use the proper format. Use the proper salutation and, if you don’t know your legislators on a personal basis, use their titles and last name (e.g., Dear Senator Smith). Check the spelling of their names.
Be neat. Type or write all correspondence neatly and legibly. State your own views, not someone else’s.
Request a reply. Ask your legislators how they feel about the issue without being demanding. As their constituent you have a right to know.
Say thanks. Letters or calls to legislators praising their positive actions are vital builders of goodwill. So often they only hear when something is wrong, that saying thanks when appropriate is effective and appreciated.
Communicating with Congress
Unless you have a personal, first-name relationship with a member of Congress or one of their staff members, the way you guarantee that your communication will be effective is to make sure the receiving office instantly can identify you as a constituent. If they can’t, there is an excellent chance your communication will be discarded without being read. Start each communication with your name and address at the very top:
Ms. Sally Jones
123 Main Street
McAlester, OK 74501
When writing a member of Congress it’s important to use the proper salutation. For senators it’s “Dear Senator” (and the senator’s last name: Dear Senator Lansing:). For members of the House of Representatives (according to House rules), the way to address female members of the House is “Congresswoman” and male members is “Congressman” (Dear Congresswoman Munster: / Dear Congressman Calumet:). However, using “Dear Representative” (Dear Representative Hammond:) is acceptable.
If you are sending an e-mail to a representative, you won’t receive a response via e-mail but will receive one through the mail (rules of the House – however, you can communicate with House staff members via e-mail). Senators respond to e-mail with e-mail. If you follow these guidelines and establish a working relationship with the elected official or one of their staff, you might be sending and receiving e-mails on a regular basis.