Tips for Talking To Your Government
Over the years, the public has given Washington an increasing number of mandates to address a wide range of issues and problems. Many activities in the US have a federal component, as well as a role for individual state governments. The federal government is involved in areas ranging from labor laws to health care, environmental regulation and protection to food safety oversight, welfare programs to education and civil rights. You get the picture.
The reality is that if we want to be a part of the conversation, then we have to keep talking. There are many ways you can contact your federal and state representatives and voice your thoughts and ideas – don’t forget, they are YOUR REPRESENTATIVES.
The following are a few tips to keep in mind when communicating with them:
- Define clearly the area you are concerned with and what you want them to accomplish. Is it changing a law? Voting a certain way on a bill before them? Increasing or decreasing funding for that issue? Look up Active Legislation for what’s pending in the current Congressional session.
- Find and contact your own Representative and Senators. You can source contact information and pending legislation for your particular State Legislature as well.
- You can find the specific committees handling particular areas and address your communication to them, as well as your Senator or Congressperson. (Click for House Committees and Senate Committees).
- If you are motivated, you can request a meeting with committee staff members or the committee members themselves. Staff members will be able to advise you about the legal and political considerations to your issue, so you can properly frame your communication.
- Get others in your state or district to write or call your Member of Congress, the more people the better (i.e., there is great power in numbers). Personalized contacts in the form of emails, calls or letters are preferable to a group or form letter. You want to both inform them on the issue and your point of view, as well as show that this has support from a significant number of others in that Member’s state or district.
We hope these links to your government help make it easier for you to be an effective advocate in your communities, locally and nationally.