Engaging with State Government

Are you planning to visit the state Capitol and your elected officials or a state department? 

The Office of Government Relations is here to help you with your visit. From assisting with finding the right connection in the legislature or state department to helping you prepare for legislative testimony, we are here to assist you in messaging on behalf of MSU. Coordinating your state government engagement with the routine discussions and planning related to state government conducted by MSU Government Relations helps all of MSU be more efficient and effective its impact. Incorporating your message with our ongoing engagement is an important element for MSU’s lobbying strategy.

 

canr testimony

Doug Buhler (left) of MSU AgBio Research and Jeff Dwyer (right) of MSU Extension testified at the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education and Community Colleges chaired by Representative Scott VanSingel (center). 

  • Engaging with State Officials

    A scheduled face-to-face meeting is considered the most effective way to communicate with your legislator. It makes the most lasting impression and is a relatively easy process. On average, a meeting typically lasts about 15 minutes and should not exceed 30. If you plan to visit your legislators, while they are in Lansing, check the official calendars for when the House and Senate members are in session to plan your meeting.

    If you are planning to meet with your legislator as a representative of Michigan State University, please contact the MSU Office of Government Relations at (517) 353-9000 or at govrel@msu.edu for assistance. We can assist you in preparing for your meeting and ensure your message aligns with the University’s lobbying strategy.

    Here are some tips to help you maximize the meeting's effectiveness:

    • Call the state officials office to make an appointment before your visit. Let them know specifically what you wish to speak to them about.
    • Always address legislators as “Representative” or “Senator.”
    • Once in the meeting, be issue-focused and clearly state your point and provide examples of how this issue personally affects you.
    • Describe and explain your relationship with Michigan State University if your visit is on behalf of MSU. 
    • If a legislator disagrees with you, be prepared to politely restate your position and to respectfully listen to the opposing position.
    • If the legislator asks questions you are not prepared to answer, refer the questions to the MSU Government Relations Office at (517) 353-9000.
    • When you depart, thank the lawmaker for their time and respectfully request the legislator's support on the issue.
  • Testifying to the Legislature

    MSU faculty and staff frequently testify in front of the legislature on a range of topics. As the state's land-grant university within miles of the State Capitol, we encourage legislators to utilize our university expertise in the law-making process.

    If you are planning to testify in front of a State House or Senate committee as a representative of Michigan State University, please contact the MSU Office of Government Relations at (517) 353-9000 or at govrel@msu.edu for assistance. We can assist you in preparing for your testimony and ensure your message aligns with the University’s lobbying strategy if applicable to MSU.

    Typically, you will have a set time limit for testimony and will be asked to engage the committee in a question and answer session. On average, spoken testimony is 10-15 minutes not including the question session following.

    Here are some tips to help you maximize the time of your testimony and meet etiquette of legislative committees:

    • Prepare and plan to submit a written testimony including your planned script and PowerPoint slides if applicable.
    • If you have handouts, be sure to bring enough copies for each member of the committee and committee staff.
    • Be sure to practice your presentation in advance and have a succinct message prepared in the event of a shortened time to present.
    • Begin your testimony by thanking the committee chair, minority committee chair, and any other legislators involved in engaging you for the opportunity to testify.
    • Address the committee chair as “Madame Chairwoman” or “Mister Chairman.”
    • Always address legislators as “Representative” or “Senator.”
    • Describe and explain your relationship with Michigan State University if your testimony is on behalf of MSU. 
    • If a legislator disagrees with you, be prepared to politely restate your position and to respectfully listen to the opposing position.
    • If the legislator asks questions you are not prepared to answer, or cannot answer at that moment, politely state that you will you follow up with an answer to this question with the appropriate data to support. In a timely manner prepare the answer to the question you were unable to answer and work with the Government Relations Office to submit your written response.
  • Information for Students and Staff

    Campus Free SpeechMichigan State is wholly dedicated to freedom of speech, not just as a public institution, but as an institution of higher education.

    Participation in Partisan PoliticsAs citizens, the faculty/academic staff members of Michigan State University have the rights and responsibilities of free speech, thought, and action as all citizens of the United States. Their position, however, imposes special obligations, such as emphasizing that they are not institutional spokespersons and exercising appropriate restraint.

    Campaigns and Ballot MeasuresThe purpose of this website is to provide basic information on these constraints and the rights and responsibilities of members of the University community regarding their participation in such activities.

    Use of facilities for political activities - As a public institution serving and supported by all the people of Michigan, MSU must take extreme care to avoid political favoritism and improper partisan activity. To meet these dual public responsibilities learn more about the University's policy on the use of facilities.

    How to find your legislator: Are you looking to find who represents you at the state or federal level? Visit our Spartan Advocate website to find links and a helpful search engine to identify your elected officials.