July Legislative UpdateLegislative Update July 2004
Kelly Vyzral, Director of Government Affairs
I hope everyone is enjoying the summer. While the legislature may be on its summer hiatus, this is no time to let your guard down. As a matter of fact, this is the perfect time to get to know your legislators…on both the state and federal (Congressional) level. Because this is an election year, your legislators will be working double time to get out into their district and meet their constituents…you.
Make an effort this summer to meet your elected officials. Personal contact with elected officials is essential to developing effective relationships. These opportunities may develop through local or state business organizations, local civic or charitable organizations, or through political functions. Make sure you check your city or town neighborhood newspaper for events where candidates will be speaking or holding candidate forums. This is a great opportunity to learn where an individual candidate stands on issues that concern you, and may even give you the opportunity to ask questions yourself. You can call your county Democratic or Republican party headquarters, or the League of Women Voters. Many times they will hold “meet the candidates” nights that are very informative and allow you to rub elbows with the candidates.
I have mentioned this before, but I think it is critical so I will bring it up again. Invite legislators to tour your pharmacy. Legislators jump at the opportunity to personally meet constituents and tour businesses or workplaces in their districts. It provides them the opportunity to meet voters, and will provide you the opportunity to familiarize them with your pharmacy practice. OPA’s government affairs staff would be happy to assist you in setting up such a visit. Contact Kelly Vyzral, Director of Government Affairs at 614.798.0037, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The very first thing I want you to do is make sure you are registered to vote. If you’ve never voted before, haven’t voted in more than four years, or if you’ve changed addresses or last name since the last time you voted, you will need to fill out a short registration form. The following web site will allow you to request a voter registration form sent to your home: http://www.sos.state.oh.us/sos/elections/index.html (click on Voter Services, then Voter Registration Request).
As I mentioned earlier, your legislators will be spending a great deal of time in their home district this summer. They will be attending town hall meetings, hosting open house hours, as well as meet-and-greets. To identify your Congressperson(s) (Ohio senators and representative), just log onto the OPA website (www.ohiopharmacists.org). Click on the Legislative info button and then choose the link to either Contact Your U.S. Senators or Contact Your Congressional Representatives. The Senators’ link provides a listing of all U.S. Senators with links to their websites. The Congressional Representatives’ link will take you directly to a state by state listing of all the representatives and their districts. If you don’t know your congressional district, go to http://www.house.gov and you will be prompted for your zip code which will take you directly to your Congressperson’s website or contact information. I would encourage you to visit their websites and learn a little bit about them (i.e., backgrounds, number of years as a legislator, committee assignments, legislation that they have supported, etc.). Put your name on legislators’ mailing lists. You will be able to do this on their website, or by calling their office directly. Legislators frequently mail news briefs to their constituents on information that is specific to the community.
Your state legislators will also be spending most of the summer and fall before the election in their home districts attending community events and participating in activities that will allow them to get in front of their constituents. Use this time to your advantage. You can log onto the OPA website at www.ohiopharmacists.org and click on
Legislative info. This will direct you to links where you can find the name of your state representative and state senator. Although they may not have individual websites, they will have address, e-mail and telephone information that will be useful in contacting them.
Time to Act
You will find that when you identify yourself as a pharmacist, you will have the interest of any legislator you contact. Issues affecting your profession and health care in general are on the front page of every newspaper you read, and the outcome of more than one political race will be decided on the ability and willingness of our elected officials to respond to the need for affordable, reliable and safe prescription drugs. Now is the time to stand up and be heard.
What is the Ohio Pharmacy PAC?
The Pharmacy Political Action Committee is a voluntary, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of pharmacists who are interested in promoting good government and public health. Pharmacy PAC money contributed by pharmacists goes to help candidates who support pharmacy in Ohio. That's right, your money is used to support political clout for Pharmacy … right here in Ohio!
To make a secure online donation to the Ohio Pharmacy PAC, $$Link,AWS_SSL:DisplayInputForm&FormID=37, CLICK HERE!$$