Are you of the mindset that participating in Dental Day is a waste of time? Do you think you are only needed for your pocketbook or wallet when it comes to participating in political or legislative activities? Think again. Anyone who has done political work of any kind, whether at the Capitol or on a campaign, knows that the key to any successful legislative effort and strategic plan involves a strong grassroots presence and that means you! Please send an email to email@example.com if you are able to attend Dental Day at the Capitol on February 27. Detailed information will follow if you are able to attend.
The Minnesota Dental Association has been actively preparing for the legislative session and would like to share with you what we are doing and what you can expect.
A = Action Alert
During the session, you may receive a legislative alert in your email. Please do not ignore it. A legislative action alert means we need you to act now. We will only send these alerts out when the need to act is urgent. The 2008 legislature convenes next week, Tuesday, February 12, 2008.
C = Collaboration
When we work together with other groups, our voice is magnified.
D = Dental Day at the Capitol
We need your help! Dental Day at the Capitol is Wednesday, February 27, 2008 from 7:30 until about 2:30 (however, you can do a half-day program). This is your opportunity to shine. It is an opportunity for you to share with legislators what you do. We need you to contribute your knowledge, opinions, and stories about your professional dental experiences.
F = Face-to-face meetings
Holding face-to-face meetings with your legislators is important whether the meeting you schedule is during Dental Day at the Capitol or with your legislator in his or her district. For example, meeting a legislator at a well-known corner coffee shop is a good place to talk politics. Anytime you can bend a legislator’s ear on a dental issue, it helps, as it keeps dental issues on their radar. Please contact the MDA if you would like assistance identifying your legislators, setting up a face-to-face meeting, or preparing for a meeting.
G = Grassroots efforts
In addition to Dental Day at the Capitol, some members are scheduling meetings on their own with legislators in their district. This is another form of grassroots action. Other MDA grassroots activities include targeting key legislators on committees to communicate with them about our bill and requesting help from you, the dentist, to talk to these legislators.
L = Lobbying
MDA’s hired contract lobbyist and new in-house Director of Legislative Relations are working closely together on behalf of the Association. Their lobbing efforts have started now and will continue until the Speaker of the House gavels the session Sine Die, sometime in May 2008.
M = Media
The MDA public relations firm and our in-house communications team are working in tandem on editorial board visits in targeted media markets, writing letters to the editors, and sending out press releases on our dental access legislation. Also in the works, we are preparing for radio and television spots in targeted districts, should this become necessary during the legislative session. Stay alert; you may be contacted to sign a letter to the editor, to speak to Chamber President and MnSCU Board Chairman David Olson at a local Chamber of Commerce meeting, or to provide a testimonial for an Op-Ed piece in the newspaper. ‘M’ also stands for message. And, everyone involved in this process at the MDA is working cooperatively on cohesive key messages for our media and all other efforts.
T = Targeting
We are working hard to target the legislative districts that are most important to our efforts. We target the districts of the legislators who sit on the Health & Human Services committees in the House and the Senate. This is where our legislation will go and the legislators who sit on these committees will make decisions about our bill.
U = Unified Voice
It is imperative that the dentists speak in one voice at the Capitol. We all have to be reading from the same song sheet. A unified voice lends credibility to our efforts.
V = Visibility
One of the great outcomes of Dental Day at the Capitol is that it helps to raise the visibility of the profession. Holding face-to-face meetings with a legislator is critical in communicating to legislators that your profession and its issues matters to you.
On Friday, Feb. 1, 2008, Dr. Lee Jess organized a face-to-face meeting with two key legislators, Rep. Loren Solberg (DFL-Grand Rapids) and Sen. Tom Saxhaug (DFL-Grand Rapids) to discuss the MDA dental access legislation. Rep. Solberg is the powerful House Ways & Means committee chairman and the author of our bill in the House. Sen. Saxhaug is in the majority party in the Senate and is a Majority Whip.
Dr. Jess was joined by seven other members of the MDA to include Drs. Mike Hagley, Jim Johnson, Mike Miskovich, Peter Miskovich, Byron Rowell, Matt Schroeder, and Charlie Sherman.
The meeting was held to discuss the dental access legislation that the MDA is proposing at the Capitol this session and to educate them on why the MDA is taking an opposing view to the misguided ADHP proposal of Sen. Ann Lynch (DFL-Rochester).
According to Dr. Jess, both legislators were receptive to our bill and understood our concerns about creating an ADHP. Specifically, they were educated on the sections of our bill, which include: creating a statewide, single-administrator public dental program, as accomplished in other states; expanding and revising the dentist loan forgiveness program to include internationally-educated dentists who meet certain criteria and to dental hygienists who practice under a collaborative agreement; continuing to promote collaborative agreements and restorative expanded functions; and exploring the creation of a Community Dental Health Coordinator (CDHC)in Minnesota. The CDHC would be a worker who does not perform invasive procedures.
Dr. Jess strongly encourages you to consider organizing similar meetings in your district, as it was a successful meeting. If you want more information or help organizing a grassroots outreach meeting, please contact Laura Fenstermaker, MDA Director of Legislative Relations at 612-767-8400 ext. 105 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recently, a request from the Legislative Affairs Committee, at the urging and suggestion of Dr. Matt Anzelc, trustee from the Northeastern District Dental Society and member of the Legislative Affairs committee, requested that all MDA presidents of districts send a letter to their legislators about our legislative interests this session with an offer to meet with them. Thanks to district presidents for their cooperation with this project. If you need any additional information on this, please let Dick Diercks or Laura Fenstermaker know by contacting the MDA office at 612-767-8400.