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Home / Articles / News / Cover Story /  Citizen Lobbying in Utah
Cover Story

Citizen Lobbying in Utah

Storm the Hill: City Weekly's guide to citizen lobbying.

By Eric S. Peterson
Posted // January 13,2010 - There’s a saying that government is like a spectator sport: You can yell all you want from the sidelines and throw the occasional beer can at the ump, but it’s not going to change the game. Yet in 2009, in the game of Utah politics, the spectators rushed the field. Utahns got sick of legislators stalling ethics reform, even after multiple scandals, and pushed an ethics-ballot initiative. Now, all of a sudden, the Legislature is drafting its own ethics reform.

But that’s just one red flag the public has thrown at public servants. Including the ethics initiative, there are five citizen initiatives, including one to reinstate progressive taxes, another to establish fair voting districts, and two related to specific ethical topics, such as using campaign money for personal expenses. Each is pushing an agenda the Legislature has typically ignored.

Also noteworthy is who is storming the field—from liberal bloggers to conservative “tea-baggers.” More and more, Utahns are feeling the exhilaration of running onto the field of politics, screaming like maniacs while proverbially tackling their elected umpires for not doing their jobs.

This guide is dedicated to those maniacs who still care enough to write legislators, to testify at committee hearings, and to pull lawmakers off the House or Senate floor to give ’em hell. But this guide is also dedicated to anyone ready to make that first excursion to the Utah Capitol and take the first step at being a citizen lobbyist.

To help in their initial efforts, here are words of advice from veterans of the citizen-lobbying trenches, including rager against waste Claire Geddes, lobbyist for equality Brandie Balken of Equality Utah and jack-of-many-causes, 30-year activist Steve Erickson.

This guide will provide tips and tricks on how to stalk your legislator, from simply finding them to actually talking to them. We also offer bios of a few of those rare political animals on the Hill we call the “happy mediums,” the ones who offer the best shot at providing a sympathetic ear to your cause, and at the very least, will help you navigate the shark waters of state politics. Finally, visit CityWeekly.net throughout the legislative session, which runs Jan. 25 to March 11, 2010, for even more information on your issues of choice, or to simply find an issue to rally around.

So there you have it, John and Jane Q Public. Now, go forth and remind your public servants who’s really calling the shots.

How to Stalk Your Utah Legislators

Tips from Veteran Citizen Lobbyists

Utah Legislators Who Listen


 
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