Toolkit for 2019 Year-End Legislator Meetings Meetings

October 2019

The first year of the 2019-2020 legislative session is over! Except for a one day session on December 1 to “organize,” the legislature is in recess until January 6.

We want to start next year off strong and demonstrate to our lawmakers that we are a force for accountability by setting up in-district office meetings. There are four primary goals for these meetings that will be the main pieces of your agenda.

  1. Thank them for voting the way we wanted on our top bills from last year
  2. Hold them accountable for votes that did not support our progressive values
  3. Tell them what we expect of them in the next year – with very specific asks so that we can monitor their performance against our goals
  4. Learn what their legislative priorities are for the next year

Before we get into the details of those topics, let’s review a few documents to brush up on how the California legislature works and how we can be effective constituents.

  • Indivisible CA: StateStrong also has some fantastic guides (you may have noticed that we’re very modest) on how the California legislature works and how we can plan our meetings with our legislators to our best advantage:
    1. Hold Your California State Representatives Accountable: an overview of the CA legislative process and how to set up effective meetings with your legislators
    2. How to Research a Bill Using LegInfo: how to use the maze called “leginfo,” the official website of the legislature that is the portal to all the goings-on in the Capitol.

Holding our legislators accountable for their votes on passed bills

This year, the legislature was generally aligned with our goals. Of the 20 bills we were tracking, 12 hit a roadblock along the way and became 2-year bills, 7 were signed into law, and 1 was passed by the legislature but vetoed by Governor Newsom. The details are in our end-of-year update. 

For your meeting, you should look up your legislators’ votes on our passed priority bills below using our leginfo research guide

  • AB 392 (Weber) – Police Use of Deadly Force – Redefines the circumstances in which use of police use of deadly force would be considered justifiable to be in self-defense
  • AB 32 (Bonta) – End For Profit Prisons – Prohibits California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation from entering into or renewing contracts with private, for-profit detention centers
  • AB 857 (Chiu) – Public Banking – Gives municipalities and the power to create their own public bank
  • AB 1482 (Chiu) – Tenant Protections – Prevents rent gouging and protects people who rent from unfair evictions by requiring landlords to have a “just cause”for any eviction
  • SB 47 (Allen) – Ballot DISCLOSE Act – Requires ballot initiative, referendum, or recall signature gatherers to disclose top funders/endorsers
  • SB 136 (Wiener) – Repeal Unjust Sentence Enhancements – Fights mass incarceration by repealing an ineffective and unnecessary sentencing enhancement for people with a prior prison conviction
  • SB 139 (Allen) – Fight County Gerrymandering – Requires counties with more than 250,000 residents to establish an independent redistricting commission, ensuring a more fair, nonpartisan system for drawing the lines of county supervisorial districts
  • SB 200 (Monning) – Clean Drinking Water – Ensures that every Californian has the right to safe, clean, affordable, and accessible drinking water

Plan to thank them for their good votes and hold them accountable for their bad ones. 

What do we expect our legislators to do next year?

Support our 2-year priority bills

First and foremost, please check our end-of-year update and if your legislators are an author of any two year bills, please ask what their plans are for resurrecting the bill next year and report back to us! If you’re feeling really ambitious, check the bill analyses (available on the “Bill Analysis” tab on leginfo) to find out who the sponsoring organizations are and contact them as well!

When you meet with your legislator, you should let them know about our 2-year priority bills and ask for their commitment to vote for those priorities next year:

  • AB 4  (Bonta) / SB 29 (Durazo) – Expands medicaid to undocumented immigrants
  • AB 177 (Low) – Create a statewide holiday for election day
  • AB 363 (Gonzalez) – Requires voting centers in all counties to be open the Saturday, Sunday, & Monday before an election.
  • ACA 6 / AB 646 (McCarty) – Restores voting rights to people on parole
  • AB 1080 (Gonzalez) / SB 54 (Allen) – Requires a 75% reduction by 2030 of waste generated from single-use packaging and single-use plastic products in the state
  • AB 1217 (Mullin) – Requires issue ads to disclose top funders/endorsers
  • AB 1276 (Bonta) – Develop and implement the Green New Deal with the objective of reaching specified environmental outcomes within 10 years
  • AB 1332 (Bonta) – Prohibits localities from entering into new contracts or investing in with entities that work with ICE/CBP by sharing data or providing detention facilities
  • AB 1611 (Chiu) – Prohibits surprise bills from “out-of-network” ERs, and caps prices to bring down health costs

Other bill ideas

You may be surprised—your legislators could ask you for ideas for bills to propose in the coming year. Come prepared with a few priority issues that your group has identified as important to your group. Across the country, Indivisibles tend to prioritize democracy reform, immigration, healthcare, and environmental issues as their top issues.

If you’d like to suggest policy changes, connect with partner groups outside of Indivisible whose values you share and who have expertise on the topic. They may already have well-thought-out policy suggestions that you could support. Once your group has identified its priority issue(s), we recommend you do some outreach to other, non-Indivisible organizations focused on that issue. Maybe even invite a representative from that organization to speak at your meeting. 

Finally, let us know if you are interested in reaching out to larger non-Indivisible organizations about potential partnerships—we may already have a contact for you!

Check out these resources from Indivisible about how to be a good partner:

What are our legislators’ priorities next year?

This is the section of the meeting that allows our legislators to describe their priorities for the upcoming year. We suggest you put this at the end of the agenda—politicians love to talk about themselves and if this is earlier in the meeting they can derail your agenda.

Do a bit of research into what they have said publicly about their plans. Check their official website (or campaign website for newly elected legislators) for press releases and other statements and do a quick search for their name in the local newspaper. A Google search is usually much better than the newspaper’s own search engine. The syntax for site-specific Google searches is “Topic” site:www.sitename.com, for example: “Toni Atkins” site:www.sandiegouniontribune.com. Then use the “Tools” menu to restrict the search to the last month or so.

Having even a little information about their plans for next year already will make the conversation more of a discussion than a lecture, and your representatives will know that you’re ready to hold them accountable for what they say.

Preparing for and conducting your office visit

Check out the section on district office visits in Indivisible States for details on how to prepare for and execute a successful office visit!

Use our TEMPLATE MEETING AGENDA as a starting point.

There are also more resources in our Office Visit Resources. And don’t forget to take a pic for your social media and to complete our report back form!