Farmers, have you spoken with your state legislators recently? The Indiana house and senate Ag Committee chairs say it’s a good idea to make sure you know them. It can help cut through clutter when you would like to weigh in on important legislative matters. And as State Representative Don Lehe explains, not very many at the statehouse drive a tractor anymore.
“We’ve got a lot of different issues at what I call the state level and I think that it is very important that you visit and talk with your state legislators. We’re more accessible, we’re easily accessible usually. We’ve got 150 legislators, 100 in the House and 50 in the Senate, and we’ve got a lot of pro-ag folks there. But the best that I can count, there are two out of that 150 that actually go home on weekends when we’re in session or the rest of the year and are actually driving a tractor or hauling manure. They are Bill Friend up at Macy and myself.”
So Senator Jean Leising says you first need to know who your reps are, but she strongly recommends meeting them, “so that when during session, if there is a big issue you want to talk to them about, you can say Senator, this is John Smith and we met at such and such and I want to talk to you about this and this. I think it’s helpful. Not saying that we don’t pay attention to every message that we get, but I tell people if it’s something really important to you, call me.”
She adds that redrawing the districts throughout Indiana makes it more difficult for both constituents and legislators.
“At least in the senate we now have more gerrymandered districts than what we used to. in the senate prior to this last redistricting I had 4 intact counties and a part of one. Now I have intact county and parts of six. Now when you do that not only do you make it difficult for individuals to know who their senator is for sure, but they’ve also made it difficult for legislators to adequately serve, for me the 7 counties. So I think it’s really important for you to create those relationships so we recognize your name, even if you’re in the “new” part of the district.”
Lehe prefers emails and text messages. Leising says a phone call works best. So your first question when meeting a representative could be about the best way to contact them.