Communicating with your Legislator

Please note: All references to "he" include "she."

What your legislator likes…

  1. Your legislator likes to hear opinions from home and wants to be kept informed of conditions in the district. Base your communication on your own pertinent experiences and observations.

  2. Write about a specific bill, describe it by number or its popular name. Your legislator reviews hundreds of bills in the course of a six-month period. Write only about one subject in your communication.

  3. Your legislator likes intelligent, well thought-out communications that present a definite position, even if your legislator does not agree with it.

  4. Even more important and valuable is a concise statement of the reasons for your position, particularly if you are writing about a field in which you have specialized knowledge. Your legislator has to vote on many matters with which he has little or no first-hand experience. Some of the most valuable help comes from facts presented in communications from persons who really know what they're talking about. (However, if you are not sure about the specifics of the bill, it is better to just indicate that you support it because you feel it is important legislation, rather than indicating a number of reasons which are not sound ones.)

  5. Short communications are always best. Members of the Legislature receive many communications each day, and a long one may not get as prompt a reading as a brief statement.

  6. Communications should be timed to arrive while the issue is still alive. If your legislator is a committee member, he will appreciate having your views while the bill is before him for study and action.

  7. A legislator likes to know when he has done something of which you approve. Do not hesitate to write if your legislator has supported and voted for legislation in which you are interested.

What your legislator does not like…

  1. Your legislator does not like communications that merely demand or insist that he vote for or against a certain bill, or that tell him what you want him to vote for but not why. Your legislator has no way of knowing whether your reasons are good or bad, and is not greatly influenced.

  2. Your legislator does not like to be threatened with promises of defeat at the next election.

  3. Your legislator does not like to be told how influential the writer is in his own locality.

  4. Your legislator does not like to be asked to commit on a particular bill until the committee in charge of the subject has had a chance to hear evidence and dig out all of the pros and cons.

  5. Your legislator does not like form communications, or communications that include excerpts from other peoples' communications on the same subject.

  6. Your legislator does not like to be deluged by communications from the same person on the same subject. Quality, not quantity, is what counts.