WRITING LETTERS

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The letter is the most popular choice of communication with elected representatives. Legislators are impressed by large numbers of informed, personal communications from constituents in their districts. They are not influenced by form letters even if they are sent by constituents from their own district. Usually, a legislative alert will contain a request for you to write a letter to your representative. The following tips should be kept in mind when writing the letter and the sample format enclosed should also assist you when composing your correspondence.

  • Address your letter properly: use the guide in this packet to properly address the legislator and if at all possible type or generate your letter using a computer.
  • Be brief and specific: Discuss only one issue in each letter and identify a bill number and title if possible. Identify the purpose for writing in the first paragraph and explain how the issue would affect you and your profession. Specific examples and brief supporting data of the legislation's impact on local interests have the most impact.
  • Ask for a reply: State your position on an issue and if you do not know the legislator's position on an issue ask for a reply. Remember to be courteous and polite and offer additional facts if it is appropriate.
  • Be reasonable and courteous: Don't ask for the impossible, and don't threaten. It may harm your cause.
  • Be sure to thank the legislator: if they support your position on an issue. Very often legislators only hear from people who need something. By offering a short thank you note you may be looked upon more favorably the next time you make a contact.
  • Be sure to restate your position: at the end of the letter. This will help to reinforce your point.
  • Keep it brief: Try to keep your letter to 1-2 pages. Legislators and their staff do not have time to read more than that.

There are a number of things you should not do when writing an elected official.

  • DON'T write on a post card.
  • DON'T begin on the righteous note of "as a citizen and a taxpayer". They assume that you are not an alien, and they know we all pay taxes.
  • DON'T apologize for taking their time. If your letter is short and expresses your opinion, they are glad to give you a hearing.
  • DON'T be rude or threatening it will get you nowhere.
  • DON'T send a carbon copy to other legislators. Write each letter individually.
REMEMBER: It is the straightforward letter carrying the appeal of earnestness that commands the interest and respect of legislators. It is especially helpful if you can state how the bill would affect you and your community. Legislators must decide how to vote on hundreds of bills each session, and they need and want your help in telling them how these bills would affect their district. How to Address Letters