Legislative coffees or cracker barrels are time-honored gatherings that allow citizens to question local legislators on the issues of the day. Generally, local community service groups host these one to two-hour town hall meetings on Saturdays during the legislative session. This is prime back home access to your local legislators during the session. So, how should you get involved?
Don’t go it alone: Organize your colleagues and friends to attend with you. There is strength in numbers.
Do your homework: Who is hosting the local coffee/cracker barrel? Local Chamber? Kiwanis?What are the format and rules?
Be Prepared: Have questions prepared ahead of time. Know what you are going to ask.
Prioritize: Time is limited. What is the most important question that you want to have asked of the legislators? Have more than one person prepared to ask or submit the same question to the moderator.
Be Respectful: Respect the moderator and the time limits. Ask your question and allow the legislators to respond. Do not interrupt; even if you don’t agree.
Look Unified: This is a great opportunity for you to join the #RedforEd movement. Have everyone wear the same color. Buttons or stickers are also a great way to look to unified.
Be Social: Live tweet any responses to education questions. Share photos of your group on Facebook and Instagram. Let others see you in action to inspire others to get active. Use #SDLeg or #SDLegCoffee so others can follow along.
Follow Up: After the forum concludes take a moment to introduce yourself to the legislators or send an email. Ask them to clarify any answers you didn’t understand.
Host a Coffee: There’s no legislative coffee in your community? Consider having your local host a coffee during the legislative session. Work with are legislators to coordinate a weekend date.
Give Feedback: You can help the SDEA Lobbyist by sharing what you are hearing from your local legislators. You can find the feedback form at sdea.org