Every State Highway Safety Office (SHSO) has learned how to develop well-crafted media campaigns that can effectively influence driver and road user behavior. Efforts to influence public policy are not much different. They require the development of finely honed messages and careful, well planned delivery of those messages. Many of the rules that apply to media campaigns also apply to legislative advocacy: target your audience, don’t impart too many messages at once, and use the appropriate medium for delivering the message.
Many SHSOs don’t conduct legislative advocacy because they believe they are prohibited from doing so if they are wholly or partially funded with federal highway grant funds. In fact, federal lobbying rules allow legislative advocacy under certain prescribed conditions.
Other SHSO’s believe that the GHSA Washington office can conduct legislative advocacy without them. Congress will not know the impact of current federal highway safety programs or how to draft new programs unless they hear from the state constituents who are most directly impacted by those programs. By not conducting legislative advocacy, an important opportunity to influence public policy is being missed. The Association’s advocacy efforts will be strengthened if the states and the Washington office advocate their positions together.
This handbook provides some resources and common sense guidance on how to conduct legislative advocacy. Click on the Resource Downloads below to view each section of Speak Up!