Writing Effective Letters/Emails to Your Legislators
 

It is impossible for every elected official to understand how every bill will affect you.  A well written letter or email will often help lawmakers understand the critical elements of pending legislation.  If you are not able to personally meet or speak with your legislators, a letter or email can effectively deliver your message before they take a position for or against a particular bill.

The following tips should guide you in preparing an effective letter or email.

  • Try to grab the lawmaker’s attention to the purpose of your letter or email within the first paragraph.  Tell them, clearly, in the first sentence what you want them to do and always identify the specific bill or bills you are writing about by using the official bill numbers. For example….I am writing to ask you to please vote against (bill number) or to please support (bill number).


  •  Try to limit your letter to one page and only address one bill or issue per letter or email.


  • Always write to the state officials in your own district in your own state or your federal officials in your own state.  If you write to officials in another district or state, your letter will be discarded unread. You can get your message to the members of a committee by writing to the chairman or chairwoman of the committee.  They will read your letter no matter where you live.


  • Always be courteous, to the point, and use facts to validate your letter, providing specific examples of how a legislative proposal will impact you. Legislators find good examples of a proposal's ultimate effect to be most helpful and persuasive.


  • Mention your involvement with and membership of animal organizations.  The connection will reinforce the message that your animal organizations are concurrently delivering on the same legislation.


  • Mention if you have already talked with a member of the elected official's staff and include their name in your letter.


  • Offer to be available to further discuss the legislation or answer any questions the legislator may have.


  • Ask the legislator to please let you know that they have received and read your letter or email.


  • Always sign your letter or email with your full name, address and city, state, zip.  Include your email address if you want them to respond to you by email.  You can also include your phone number.


  • Important: In order to receive full consideration, every written communication to a legislator MUST contain your complete postal mailing address.  Communications from individuals outside of your state are given very limited weight, except for those on official organization letterhead and individuals with clear local ties. 



Addressing Letters and Emails

Here is how to address your letters or emails, which go in the left hand corner of your letter or email. Be sure to put the date in the right hand corner of your letter.  Use the same address for your letter’s envelope.

For a state Senator...                                          For a state Representative...          

The Honorable (full name)                                    The Honorable (full name)                    
(your state) Senate                                              (your state) House of Representatives        
Statehouse                                                          Statehouse
City, State, zip code                                             City, State, zip code

Dear Senator (last name):                                    Dear Representative (last name):

 


For a federal (US) Senator…                                   For a federal (US) Representative…

The Honorable (full name)                                     The Honorable (full name)
(Rm #) (name of) Senate Office Building                 ( Rm #) (name of) House Office Building                 
United States Senate                                             United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC  20510                                         Washington, DC  20510                                

Dear Senator (last name):                                      Dear Representative (last name):



Note:  When writing to the Chair of a Committee or the Speaker of the House, it is proper to address them as:

      Dear Mr. Chairman or Madam Chairwoman

      Dear Mr. Speaker or Madam Speaker:

 Try to follow up your letter or email with a phone call.

CONTACTING LEGISLATORS

TELEPHONE CORRESPONDENCE

WRITTEN CORRESPONDENCE

Tips on Telephoning Your Legislators
 

  • Remember that phone calls are usually taken by a staff member, not the elected official.  Ask to speak with the aide who handles the issue about which you wish to comment. 


  • After identifying yourself, tell the aide you would like to leave a brief message, such as:  “Please tell Senator/Representative (name) that I support/oppose ____ " and use the official bill number for the bill you are making the comment about.  You will also want to state reasons for your support or opposition to the bill.  Ask for your Senator’s or Representative’s position on the bill.  You may also request a written response to your phone call.  Always thank the aide for taking your call and delivering your message to your elected official.


To find your elected official’s address or phone number go to
www.Congress.org and click on “State Officials” for your state or click on “Congress” for your federal (US) officials.  State specific information is also on the individual state pages.