Just one week before Washington D.C.’s cherry blossoms reached peak bloom, 375 members of the American Student Dental Association (ASDA) gathered on April 7th and 8th to lobby legislators on Capitol Hill. Every year, National Dental Student Lobby Day focuses on legislation that affects dental students. On April 7 ASDA members were informed about bills on student loan refinancing, student loan interest deduction and pro bono dental care. Then on April 8 they shared personal stories with legislators on why these issues are important to them. They asked legislators to co-sponsor these bills in order to give the bills a better chance of becoming laws. Pertinent knowledge of the Congressional members’ stance on the issues, as well as their voting history, was key to providing the most credible and effective pitch for co-sponsorship. Lobbying is a constant relationship building process and it requires constant nurturing. The following bills were lobbied at this year’s National Dental Student Lobby Day are:
- S. 1066: Federal Loan Refinancing Act
- H.R. 1527: Federal Student Loan Refinancing Act
- S. 466/H.R. 963: Coordination of Pro Bono Medically Recommended Dental Care Act
The efforts provided last week will only be effective with proper follow up with legislators this week, reminding legislators of “the ask” and thanking them for their time and support. It is also important to note that Engagewas created by ASDA to provide dental students around the country with a collective way to take action on bills pending throughout the year. With the political climate so tense in Congress at the moment, every contact with legislators is critical. ASDA chapter leaders should encourage lobby day participants at their chapters to share their experiences with their fellow classmates, in order to build awareness for the issues and allow collective lobbying via Engage. It would also be advantageous for district leaders to take this time to establish state lobby days and advocacy academies with their state dental associations, focusing on both state and national dental issues.
Want to learn more? Check out a flashback to our post about National lobby day tips from a pro!
~Adrien Sangsari, Los Angeles ’15, District 11 legislative liaison 2013-14