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Tips to Communicate with Federal and State Legislators

 
  • Do

    identify clearly the subject matter or subjects in which you are interested, not just House or Senate bill numbers. Remember, it is easy to get a bill number incorrect.

  • Do

    state why you are concerned about an issue or issues. Your own personal experience is excellent evidence. Explain how you think an issue will affect your business, profession, community, or family.

  • Do

    restrict yourself to one or at most two topics. Concentrate your arguments.

  • Do

    put your thoughts in your own words. This is especially important if you are responding to something you read.

  • Do

    try to establish a relationship with your own legislators. In general, you have more influence as a actual constituent.

  • Do

    communicate while legislation is in committee and subcommittees, as well as when it is on the floor. Legislators have much more influence over legislation with their committee's and subcommittees's jurisdiction.

  • Don't

    be starstruck. Yes, be in awe of our system of democracy in which you're participating in and yes, respect the legislative office... but resist the temptation to be "wowed" by a legislator. Remember, they are your neighbors.

  • Don't

    ever, ever threaten. Don't even hint "I'll never vote for you unless you do what I want." Present the best arguments in favor of your position and ask for their consideration. You needn't remind a legislator of electoral consequences. Visits, phone calls, and mail will be counted without your prompting.

  • Don't

    pretend to wield vast political in-fluence. Communicate with legislator's as a constituent, not as a self-appointed spokesperson for your school, neighborhood, community, or profession.

    However, if you really are a spokesperson for a group be sure to mention it.

  • Don't

    use incendiary rhetoric, innuendos or cliches. Such jargon can make your communications sound mass produced even when they aren't.

  • Don't

    become a pen pal or perpetual informercial. Some legislative offices will become indifferent to you.



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