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I have often been asked what the best way is to talk with a legislator and how can you be impactful when you do so. To be honest, I had not thought about it since I had been a legislator. In the last 6 years, I have had many different forms of communication, some good and some bad, directed toward me and as I think about it, I can give a good summary of how to talk to a legislator that is both fun to read and informational at the same time.

Since I have been asked about how to communicate effectively with legislators and political-type people, I thought, let’s give it a try and see what people think. As I think about it, I have had way more ways of how not to communicate with a legislator than I have had ways to communicate with a legislator and still be effective in your communication. The first thing that I can say is to be respectful.

When I say that it seems common sense doesn’t it? If you want to be effective, then being respectful is the first order of business. I have to say that I have always striven to be respectful in my dealings with people who contact me. There are times where I have been short or stretched for time and I did not come off as respectful, but I always try to make that extra effort to be respectful.

Whether it is email, phone, Facebook, Twitter, in person, or some other manner, I would always say identify yourself and give what you want to happen in the first portion of your communication. I have received messages from people and by the time I am done with the message, I have never found out the “what” in their communication. So, the first portion that I would think of is the Who and the What of the typical who, what, when, where, and why.

I would then give the why. Why is it that you want or do not want a particular legislation or whatever it is that you are advocating for? I think this is the most important part of the scenario. If I as a legislator only hear vote NO or vote Yes on a topic, we just go back to what we feel is right, and often serious issues get overlooked. In today’s fast-paced world this is often the most overlooked part of communication, even when it is the most important.

Another, often done thing, is to send form letters or copy and paste correspondence. I am telling you that is the least effective way to try and impact a decision-maker. After 4 or 5 of the same messages, I got the message and I find that if it isn’t important enough for you to put your thoughts down, it isn’t important enough for me to respond in kind. For those of you who know me, even if I do not agree with your point, I typically try to respond personally with a return note. I try to take the time and respond personally to you. I think that is important.

Finally, I think it is important to thank a person who you are asking things from. I do not say this for you to thank me. That is not why I do this business…for goodness’ sake, I am the first to say I do not need to be thanked. However, it is nice and even when I disagree with you on a particular thing, I always thank you for your thoughts.

I am not saying if you do the above that whoever you are contacting will switch their vote or their way of thinking. I am saying you will be more effective if you do the above simple steps. I am even willing to go on a limb that, even though these are my preferences, they probably apply to every decision-maker in the country.

I don’t think that I am any different, better, or worse than others in my responses except that when some are getting messages to the tune of thousands, they simply cannot respond in-person to everyone who writes them.

I want to tell you that I take a lot of importance in reading, listening, and seeing your correspondence. I enjoy talking and seeing you the best but it just isn’t a possibility for the bulk of the population. I am honored to represent you and I will work hard to earn and keep your trust. Thank you for the honor to represent you and bring our NW Iowa values to the concrete of Des Moines.
House Passes Childcare Assistance and Legislation

House File 712 passed the House this week with bipartisan support and provides for a child care incentive for developers (to construct more child care centers). The bill creates a workforce child care facility tax credit for the developer of a new or rehabilitated child care facility. This includes both income tax credits and sales and use tax refunds. The tax credit is not refundable but is transferable. The program cap is $3.0 million annually.

House File 712 provides that to qualify for a tax credit a project must include at least one of the following:

  • Construction of a new child care facility or
  • Rehabilitation, repair, or redevelopment of an existing structure to be used as a child care facility

The bill provides that a developer seeking a workforce child care facility tax credit must apply to IEDA. IEDA will prescribe the application process by rule however the application must include:

  • A resolution in support of the child care facility by the community where it will be located and
  • Documentation of local matching funds pledged for the facility equal to at least $50,000, or in the case of a small-city, $25,000 (could be cash, tax abatement, etc)

House File 712 also provides that applications will be reviewed and scored competitively and that an awarded project must be completed within three years. The bill provides that a developer is allowed a tax incentive of up to $200,000 per project. The tax credit amount can be no more than 10 percent of the project cost for big cities and no more than 20 percent for small cities. The tax credit can be carried forward for five years. The overall tax credit program is capped at $3.0 million per fiscal year with at least 60 percent going to small cities.

House Republicans are committed to providing practical solutions to Iowa’s child care problem. House File 712 is one of many bills authored by House GOP and seeks to incentivize the creation of more child care slots in Iowa—with specific incentives going to the child care deserts in rural Iowa. The bill will now move to the Senate for further consideration.

Author: John Wills