Personal letters are the basic tool for contacting legislators at critical stages of the legislative process. Letters are used to directly express your views on a given issue. Emails and faxes are particularly useful when timing becomes crucial on the action of a bill. When writing to a lawmaker about a legislative issue, the following guidelines will make your letters more effective.
- Be brief—Limit your letter to a discussion of one bill.
- Be specific—Identify the subject clearly and always use the bill number and author.
- Be direct—Explain how the issue affects your organization, employees, patients and the community.
- Take a position—Ask for your legislator’s support or opposition.
- Consider timing—It is imperative that you convey your position on a bill before a committee or floor vote. Use faxes, e-mail or telegrams, if necessary.
- Be distinct—Avoid copying background papers or form letters verbatim.
Send copies of your correspondence to HASC so that staff can convey members’ vital interests in a particular bill to CHA lobbyists.
- When responding to an Alert or writing a letter to oppose a legislator’s position on a given issue, thank the legislator for addressing the problem or issue, then cite your differences and reasons for disagreement.
- Keep all communications friendly and respectful.
- Use letterhead and personal stationery.
- Check for misspelled names.
- Ask for written replies and statements of legislators’ position.
- Give feedback to HASC or CHA staff listed as the contact person on the Alert.
- After a favorable vote, write a brief note to your legislators thanking them for support.