Advocating for Policy in the State Legislature

By: Christopher Jackson
October 5, 2019
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Est. Reading Time: 2 minutes
Local playbook
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State governments are responsible for overseeing and implementing many of the policies that impact our day-to-day lives such as education, infrastructure, and public land management. In some areas, such as drug legalization and climate change adaptation, states are leading the drive and serving as testing grounds for new policy approaches. For people with technical backgrounds, state policy engagement offers a valuable avenue to help create and influence impactful policy.

Do you have a great idea for a new policy or want to offer your expertise on legislation under consideration in your state legislature? Did you know that talking to your state legislators is an effective way to begin advocating for it? You need to first find your state’s legislative calendar to understand when a visit might be most effective. Then, identify lawmakers who sit on relevant committees or have a vested interest in your ideas and set up meetings with their offices. Strong preparation, like creating a one-page leave behind document, will increase the chances of your voice being heard and help you build long-term relationships with your elected officials.

At ESAL, we realize a significant barrier is simply knowing where to get started. That’s why our latest Playbook guide — Advocate for a Policy with State Legislators or Legislative Staff — provides a step-by-step guide to setting up your first visit to a state legislative office.

If you are an engineer or scientist who is interested in policy but not quite sure how to make an impact, we hope you find this guide useful. You can also access more step-by-step guides in our Local Engagement Playbook, which will continue to update with resources that empower engineers and scientists taking action in their communities.

Is there a local engagement activity that you want to learn more about? Please let us know at, and we will work on creating a step-by-step guide to get you started.

Engineers & Scientists Acting Locally (ESAL) is a non-advocacy, non-political organization. The information in this post is for general informational purposes and does not imply an endorsement by ESAL for any political candidates, businesses, or organizations mentioned herein.
Published: 10/5/19
Updated: 09/13/22
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