Communicating with Your Legislator
Communicating with your state legislator in written form is as effective tool in conveying the issues that are most important to you. Most legislators always like to hear the thoughts of their constituents when forming opinions. When writing letters or emails, there are several items that are important:
- Be specific. Identify bills or issues specifically. If bill numbers are unknown, attempts should be made to find them. If they cannot be found, bills should be referenced by their title.
- Be brief. If written communications are brief, there is more of a chance that they will be read. Single pages are preferable; any detailed information can be attached to the one page letters.
- Be direct. The rationale behind your positions on bills or issues should be stated in a forthright manner. Personal examples from your own experiences may help make the point. You should ask for specific actions to be taken by legislators.
- Be constructive. If you have specific expert knowledge on bills, that knowledge should be shared. Remember, often the industry has much more knowledge regarding the issue than do the legislators.
- Be timely. Be sure to give the legislator enough notice to be able to have plenty of time to review and take action on specific bills.
- Be complimentary. If you legislator has supported your positions, follow-up letters of appreciation are very valuable. Remember a note of thanks to those staff people who helped to arrange or participated in the meetings.
- Don't threaten. Diplomacy is always best.
- Don't use "canned" material if possible. Associations may send information to assist in preparing letters to legislators but this information should be conveyed to the legislators in your own words. Personal letters are always better than canned form letters or post cards.
- Be neat. It is fine to hand write a letter, however, if letters are handwritten, they should be legible.