Capitalize on Legislative Action to Grab Attention

March 19, 2012

March is a busy time for lawmakers, from Congress down through state legislatures and local governments. That makes it the ideal month to stage a public event that leverages the latest legislative action on infrastructure investment.

If coming to Washington, D.C., to meet with lawmakers during ASCE’s annual Legislative Fly-In isn’t an option this year, there are plenty of other ways to tap into what’s going on legislatively and use it as a platform for a public outreach event.

Since civil engineers provide valuable technical expertise that many lawmakers lack access to, many Sections and Branches set aside a specific day to visit their state capital in large numbers and meet their representatives. Check your local group to find out when your next government relations opportunity arises and consider ways to share what you learn with your community.

One idea would be to hold a legislative breakfast/lunch event and focus on a particular issue that is always in the news. If you have a state Report Card, you’ll have plenty of issues to choose from.

Take, for instance, the Southern Idaho Section, which last week released its 2012 Report Card for Idaho’s Infrastructure. Released at the Idaho State Capitol Building, the Report Card gave the state an overall grade of C-. It found that the vast majority of Idaho’s infrastructure lacks proper maintenance funding and is poorly equipped to deal with increasing demands as the state continues to grow.

With ASCE President-elect Greg E. DiLoreto, P.E., PLS, F.ASCE, and ASCE Region 8 Governor Pat White, P.E., M.ASCE, in attendance, the successful release event attracted coverage from local TV stations and newspapers. A large crowd turned out, including state legislators and Boise State University students.

If you feel like you don’t have a good grasp on the legislative issues important to civil engineering, don’t despair. Over the past year, ASCE has been working to enhance our state and local advocacy efforts. An upcoming free eLearning webinar will focus on one of our new tools – ASCE’s new state bill tracking system, which allows our members to access information about legislative and regulatory proposals in their states. Once you log in, you will be able to see legislative proposals pending that affect the engineering profession and learn how to take action on these issues. The webinar will be held Wednesday, April 18 at 2 p.m. ET.

Feeling knowledgeable about your local issues will give you the confidence to participate in a public outreach event, helping to spread the word at the state and local level about the need for infrastructure investment.

Have you used legislative topics as the basis of an outreach event? Do you think it draws a wider audience than some other outreach events? Why or why not?

Audrey Caldwell
Senior Manager, Communications

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