Making Effective Contacts with Lawmakers
Personal letters or e-mail: Personal letters and e-mail to legislators can be very important in lobbying for or against a particular bill. Here are some guidelines to help you write an effective letter or e-mail:
- Write your letter carefully and check it for correct spelling and grammar.
- Use the legislator’s correct full name and title.
- Identify the bill or issue and your specific purpose for writing.
- Address what you believe should be done with the bill and ask for a specific action.
- Localize your letter or e-mail message and tell what the bill means to your community, campus, or school district by name. Be specific and rely on your personal experience as evidence.
- State that you are not expecting a reply, unless you specifically want one.
- Sign your name and give your home address and phone number.
- Personal calls: Calling a legislator is a legitimate form of lobbying.
Here’s how to be effective when making a phone contact with your legislator:
- Call your legislator at his or her Capitol office. Identify yourself by name and home town.
- Identify the bill by its name and number.
- State briefly your position on the bill and how you want the legislator to vote.
- Ask for your legislator’s current position on the bill. If he or she wants more information or asks for written follow-up to the call, provide the information or agree to mail it right away.
- Thank your legislator for spending time on the phone. (Your legislator is busy, as you are.)
- Speak with a secretary or the legislator’s staff member if your legislator is on the floor or in a committee hearing. Identify yourself and give your address, home town, and home phone number; identify the bill by name and number; and state how you want the legislator to vote.
- If you get the legislator’s voice mail, leave a succinct message. If you don’t want a return call, be sure to say so.
- Personal visits: Nothing is more effective than communicating your position face to face with your legislator.
If your legislator knows you have traveled to the Capitol, he or she will usually find some place to meet with you. It’s a good idea to call or write in advance to state your desire to meet.
- Your legislator may not have read the bills you want to discuss; take some time to find out and help educate him or her about the bills.
- Keep the visit as brief as possible. If you are in a group, keep the number small and have only one main spokesperson.
- Provide something in writing if possible, such as a fact sheet on the bill and the Association’s position on it.
- If possible, conduct the personal visit when the legislator is in his or her home town in familiar territory. You can meet at someone’s home or in a restaurant, at a school or a business – where ever it’s comfortable to get together.
- More tips for making effective contacts with legislators
- Be informed about the issue you want to discuss.
- Be prepared with information relevant to the bill you are talking about.
- Be friendly, open, and prepared to listen as much as you talk.
- Be calm and rational and professional.
- Be an advocate – tell what the Association’s position is on the bill.
- Be positive and persuasive, but refrain from arguing.
- Be specific and provide examples of the impact the bill will have on you, your job, your students, your workplace.
Use the appropriate etiquette
The Honorable (Legislator’s First & Last Names)
Colorado House of Representatives or Colorado Senate
Denver, Colorado 80203
Dear Senator (last name):
Dear Representative (last name):
Call the Colorado State Capitol
Senate toll-free: 888-473-8136
Republican Senators: 303-866-4866
Democratic Senators: 303-866-2316
House toll-free: 800-811-7647
All Representatives: 303-866-2904