Focus on Advocacy
This is a year like no other, and that holds true for reimagining how best to adapt and apply PTA flexibility to new ways of advocating to help every child reach their potential. The campus in Olympia is closed to the public for the 2021 legislative session, which means that we will not be able to host our annual Focus Day on the Capitol steps. However, advocacy is not a one-day event; it is an everyday action. And so, we are moving to an ongoing “Focus on Advocacy” program to keep members informed and engaged throughout the session, keeping our efforts focused on the mission.
Engage in Advocacy
Even though the Capitol buildings are closed to the public and the House and Senate are working remotely there are still many opportunities for PTA members to engage in meaningful advocacy efforts.
It is important to make appointments with the legislators as far in advance as possible. At this time, all appointments will be virtual. We are not sure what technology platform legislators will be using for these appointments, and many details are likely to be released in advance of the January 11 session start date.
Input your address here to get the names of the Representatives and Senator(s) for you, your school district, and their contact information. Members should consult with their local PTA, council, or region advocacy chair for assistance in making legislator appointments. Appointments may begin as early as 8:00 am.
What do you say during an appointment with a legislator? WSPTA encourages you to visit our advocacy page, where you will find our 2021 WSPTA Legislative Platform, as well as a detailed one-page handout for each legislative priority in the drop-down lists under “Legislative Platform.” These one-page handouts are great sources of talking points and can be given to legislators as well. In addition, due to the visual opportunities provided by a remote session, videos on each of the positions have been uploaded which you can use as a start to your meeting or in advance to explain your support for a legislative priority.
Tip: tell legislators why WSPTA priorities are important to you and ask for their support!
Excerpt from 2021 Focus on Advocacy – January 18 Report:
Participating virtually can be done in one of three ways: signing up to testify “live” via a Zoom link; providing written testimony which will become part of the official record and be available to committee members, and stating a position (with no comments). To participate “live,” people will be allowed to sign up as soon as the bill has been scheduled for a public hearing; signups will close one hour prior to the committee hearing. Signing up does not guarantee testimony. Submitting written testimony through the portal is allowed up to 24 hours after the public hearing.
- Here are the Senate remote portal and the House remote portal.
- All committee meetings will be televised by TVW and can be found on the day of at tvw.org or in the TVW archives.
Following this week’s committee hearings, here are some things we learned about the new system:
- After signing up for “live” testimony, you will be emailed a unique link to the committee meeting.
- For the most part, committees asked speakers for shorter testimony (with a clock counting down in the background), so prepare a two-minute, 90-second, and 60-second version of testimony.
- When you are in the waiting room, make sure your video and audio are off, but be ready for when they call you to turn both on. When finished speaking, turn your mic and video off.
- Don’t disconnect from the hearing until after the chair has asked committee members if there are any questions and dismisses you from the hearing.
- Even if you have a link to testify, the committee time may run out. House committee meetings are capped at 1 hour and 45 minutes; Senate committee meetings are 2 hours. This time includes committee staff briefings on the bills up for public hearing, the time getting testifiers “on deck,” and the time lapses before people start speaking. The good news? If you don’t testify live, you can submit it through the “written testimony” link up to 24 hours after the committee hearing starts.
- Submitted or “written” testimony is limited to 5,000 characters, including spaces and lines.
To learn more about the WSPTA legislative priorities:
- Top five and also supported legislative issues
- WSPTA complement of resolutions
- WSPTA legislative principles
- Subscribe to WSPTA Action Network
Advocates in Action
Throughout the legislative session, PTA advocates testify to the legislature on bills that align with our legislative priorities. Information about the testimony is posted in the WSPTA blog, search on the tag “testimony” to see the full list of posts. In addition to all of the fantastic advocacy happening in Washington state, WSPTA is active at the federal level as well. Read more on our most recent activity here.
Additional Information and Links
This pre-session webinar takes a brief look back at successes in 2020 and then looks forward at WSPTA’s legislative priorities for 2021, opportunities for testifying, tips for meeting and talking with legislators remotely, and a special “focus” on preparing for Advocacy Week during a pandemic!
January 18 – 22, 2021
In addition to our ongoing efforts, WSPTA asked members to take action from home or from their phones throughout an entire week. Thank you to everyone who participated during this week in support of children across the state of Washington.
- Monday, January 18 – Call to Action: Focus on anti-racism
- Tuesday, January 19 – Call to Action: Focus on equity
- Wednesday, January 20 – Call to Action: Focus on mental health and wellness
- Thursday, January 21 – Call to Action: Focus on preserving and flexing funding
- Friday, January 22 – Call to Action: Focus on safety and emergency preparedness