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1. Do your
Look up the pertinent members of
the House of Representatives
and Senate to find out what types
of historic resources are in their
districts, what interests they
have, what committees they sit
on, and where they stand on
Also research what your state,
tribal, and local preservation
organizations are doing.
The best time to lobby is
when a representative or
senator is considering
writing or sponsoring a bill
that will benefit
preservation. If you make
your position known at
this stage, you have a
greater opportunity to
influence the legislation.
3. Make a
Any contact with your legislative
members should include a clear
statement of the action you would
like them to take. Possible
actions include introducing a bill,
becoming a cosponsor, voting in
committee or on the floor in favor
of a bill or amendment, or
contacting another key member.
4. Have accurate info on hand
It’s important to know as much as possible about the bills you’re lobbying for. Your
case will be improved if you use accurate, factual material to substantiate your
position, and this groundwork will be reflected when your representative or senator
makes an informed decision on an issue. You may also want to provide rebuttals to
arguments your opponents are making on the issue.
5. Use real-life, local examples
Connect the legislative issue you are discussing with examples of how it will benefit
historic resources in your community, such as naming the historic districts and
buildings that would benefit from historic tax credits. Only you can make it real and
relevant for your legislators.
6. Establish an ongoing relationship
Check with your member’s offices on a regular basis, not just when you need them to
do something. Invite them to local events and keep them informed of local
preservation issues and updates. Ideally, the offices will eventually reach out to you for
advice and information on preservation issues.
7. Contact the
Your first communication to the
Washington, D.C. office of a
member of Congress is likely to
be directed to the legislative
assistant who handles
preservation issues. To help your
case, provide concise, well-
including material on how the
issue plays out in that member’s
8. Contact your
Senators may have six or so
offices around their state. A
congressman in a small district
would only have one; in a larger
district, two or three. While staff
members who work in the district
office are not directly involved in
the legislative process, they are
more readily accessible and
familiar with local issues. The
member’s schedule in his home
district is usually arranged by
these offices as well. Use them
9. Remember to
hit all levels of
Although federal laws have a
tremendous impact on
preservation, the success or
failure of preservation may be
determined at the local level.
Fortunately, all of the same
rules apply; lobbying is
lobbying, regardless of the
office the elected official holds.
10. Polish your communications
Whether lobbying in person or by email, phone, or letter, remember to identify
yourself. Be succinct with your request. Ask specific questions. State your position on
the issues. Have your research on hand. Keep your exchanges short and to the point.
Always follow up on any questions or requests. And most importantly -- say thank you!
The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America’s
historic places. Preservation Tips & Tools helps others do the same
in their own communities.
For more information, visit SavingPlaces.org.
Photos courtesy: www.glynlowe.com/Flickr CC
BY-2.0; Moyan Brenn/Flickr CC BY-2.0; Karen
P/Flickr CC BY-ND-ND-2.0; Stephen D/Flickr CC
BY-NC-ND-2.0; Jeremy Brooks/Flickr CC BY-NC-
2.0; Nicolas Henderson/Flickr CC BY-2.0; Kevin
Dooley/Flickr CC BY-2.0; Nicholas
Raymond/Flickr CC BY-2.0; Wally Gobetz/Flickr
CC BY-NC-ND-2.0; Harshil Shah/Flickr CC BY-
ND-2.0; Evan Forester/Flickr CC BY-2.0.