The Challenges of Long-Distance Lobbying

Since its founding in 1982, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms (NYCF) has lobbied the New York State Legislature in support of Christian principles. Throughout that time, we have sought to fulfill our mission: To influence legislation and legislators for the Lord Jesus Christ.

While our mission is unchanged in 2021, our methods will be much different than usual. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the New York State Capitol has been closed to visitors since March 14, 2020. There are no plans to re-open it. As The Wall Street Journal says, “The halls of the Capitol—normally crowded with besuited lobbyists, chanting protesters, bustling bureaucrats and lawmakers—were quiet this year, as officials enacted a $178 billion budget and passed laws overhauling policing practices.”

Generally speaking, lobbying at the New York State Capitol is an in-person business. Unless and until the Capitol re-opens to the public, NYCF and other similar organizations will be required to find new ways to build relationships with legislators and educate them on issues of concern. To adjust to this new reality, NYCF has set up a war room at our ministry headquarters that allows us to monitor the legislative session online and respond to legislative developments in real time. Like other lobbying groups, we encourage our friends and supporters to communicate with their elected officials online and to meet with them in their district offices so long as the Capitol remains off limits to the public.

New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms opposes the decision to keep the Capitol closed to visitors. If the state legislature truly is an essential activity that must be allowed to function on an in-person basis, citizen access to the Capitol should be deemed equally essential. Until the Capitol re-opens to the public, NYCF will continue to work vigorously to influence members of the Legislature. We just won’t be able to do it in person.