AFFECTING PUBLIC POLICY THROUGH ADVOCACY AND LOBBYING
An Example of Lobbying
In April 1998, Rep Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) introduced federal legislation into the 105th Congress called the New Mothers’ Breastfeeding Promotion and Protection Act (H.R.3531). Its five major provisions include to:
• Protect a woman’s right to breastfeed or express milk during the work day
• Provide a tax credit to encourage employers to facilitate lactation
• Offer mother’s milk breaks to employed new mothers
• Develop minimum quality standards for breastpumps
• Expand WIC’s breastfeeding promotion program (enacted into law 10-31-98)
A second bill was introduced into the House called Right to Breastfeed Act (H.R.4628). This would ensure a woman’s right to breastfeed her child on any portion of Federal property where the woman and her child are otherwise authorized to be. This act was passed into law. Both are important to safeguard breastfeeding in the US. Before being enacted into law however, bills or portions of bills are sent to the appropriate oversight committee to be further refined. Bills also need co-sponsors (other legislators) to accumulate and influence votes of other legislators. Bills such as these need co-sponsors. They are secured when breastfeeding advocates write to their federal members of Congress and ask them to co-sponsor bills. The following letter can be a model for you to use in writing your own representatives.
You may wish to communicate with your senator or representative in person. This can take place in the Member’s district office near your home or in his or her Washington office. When you call, ask for the appointments secretary, informing her of who you are, whom you represent, and the subject you wish to discuss. If the Member is not available, ask to meet with the staff person who handles the relevant issue. Another way to meet your legislator is to invite him or her to attend a breastfeeding coalition meeting, speak at a breastfeeding conference, address your group, etc. Follow-up any meeting with a letter thanking the Member for his or her time, re-stating your position and request, and providing any pertinent materials. This helps establish you as a credible and reliable source of information.