Citizen Lobbyist Training 2012


What they saw and learned

A good citizen lobbyist is informed, responsive, straight-forward, honest, passionate about her issue, ignores the hardened opposition, willing to persuade the unconvinced, and remembers to keep in touch with her friends on the floor of the House or Senate. People from across Wyoming participated in the 2012 Equality State Policy Center Citizen Lobbyist Training Feb. 15 at The Plains Hotel in Cheyenne. They were immersed in the civics behind the legislative process and talked about what makes a good lobbyist good. They also learned to navigate the elegant legislative process including the protocol that directs the conduct and participation in legislative committee hearings. Attendees, 42 of them, came from Green River, Rock Springs, Casper, Wheatland, Chugwater, Cody, Sheridan, Torrington, Laramie and Cheyenne. They worked on honing a message to make it concise and interesting. A mock committee hearing featured four sitting state senators, including Chairman Cale Case of Lander and Sens. John Hastert, Wayne Johnson, and Bill Landen. Tom Aitchison, a UW-CC student in social work, testified to the committee and handled its demands as his fellow students watched along with steelworkers, railroaders, and nonprofit organization staffers.

Tom Aitchison testifies to mock committee

Chairman Case demanded that all comments go through the chair. Sen. Hastert launched into a side conversation with Sen. Landen. Aitchison withstood a grilling about his position on the bill under discussion. Following the “hearing,” the senators offered their perspectives on lobbying and lobbyists. Sen. Hastert noted his side conversation was intention, meant to show what can happen. He noted legislators often must get up to leave in the middle of someone’s testimony because of obligations elsewhere in the Capitol. Sen. Johnson assured the crowd that “real people” who make the effort to get to Cheyenne to testify are much appreciated by legislators who regularly hear from seasoned professional lobbyists. They are given more leeway in navigating the committee process, he added.

Attendees observe the mock committee

The annual training ended with small-group tours of the Capitol building. With the House adjourned for the day, 10 of the students were escorted into the House chambers by Rep. Stan Blake for a closer look at the legislative arena.

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