Washington Insight

New web site resource benefits APWA members

Heather McTavish
Government Relations Coordinator
APWA Washington, D.C. office

The Internet has revolutionized the way we communicate and gain access to information. Communication has become as simple as sending an e-mail. Information once difficult to find can be located instantly by using keywords.

Congress has taken notice of the role that the Internet plays in communicating with constituents. E-mail has created an instant way to communicate with legislators on issues where time is of the essence. In an effort to assist APWA members convey their views to Congress, APWA has added a new advocacy resource and tool to the government affairs page of APWA's new web site-the "APWA Legislative Action Center"-that makes communication with Congress as easy as the click of a mouse. The Legislative Action Center has four main features, including:

  • Elected Officials-a detailed guide providing information on members of Congress including photographs, occupations, e-mail addresses, phone numbers, staff listings, and more. The section also includes complete committee rosters and congressional leadership information. An e-mail feature allows APWA members to write members of Congress, the President, and other government officials.
  • Issues and Legislation-a comprehensive guide that provides links to current legislation, legislative alerts, and key votes.
  • Guide to Local Media Contacts-enables APWA members to enter a zip code and access newspapers and media outlets for any area of the country.
  • Congress Today-members can search the House and Senate current committee schedules. A projected hearing schedule is also posted.
When a public works issue arises, an "Alert" icon will be placed on APWA's home page at www.apwa.net notifying APWA members that an important issue is before Congress. A link will direct users to the Legislative Action Center where members can send letters stating APWA's position on the issue and urging action. Correspondence can be sent as a letter to Members of Congress or via e-mail.

Communicating with Congress via e-mail can be an effective way to get an issue heard by your Congressman or Senator. Like any correspondence, an e-mail needs to follow the same format as a well crafted letter. E-mails need to be personal, thoughtful, and tell an interesting story. The e-mail needs to stand apart from others. Personal stories are the best way to convey to members of Congress how a constituent was affected by the issue. The issue is likely to affect other constituents in the district. One well-delivered message counts more than 1000 postcards. There is such a thing as quality e-mail, so make sure your message is one that counts.

Access to the APWA Legislative Action Center is password protected and will require use of your APWA issued password and username (member id number and last name). The Legislative Action Center is available at http://www.apwa.net/GovtAffairs/. Click on Legislative Action Center on the left margin. An introductory letter outlining the need for Congress to place priority on addressing the needs of our nation's public infrastructure is currently posted on the site. All members are encouraged to take advantage of this new tool by sending letters to your members of Congress. As a reminder, all APWA members should be sure to follow employer policies on contacting and communicating with elected officials, and be sure to coordinate activities with others in your organization who have responsibility for intergovernmental/government relations activities.

Feedback on the new APWA Legislative Action Center should be directed to Heather McTavish in the APWA office in Washington at hmctavish@apwa.net or 202-408-9541.