Contact Elected Officials
As you are building these strong, personal relationships, it is important to remember that:
- Policymakers care about issues that affect their constituents and they respond to concise, persuasive arguments that are easily understood and communicated.
- Letters, emails, and phone calls are effective ways to communicate. Five or six letters or phone calls on a specific issue will encourage the elected official to pay much closer attention to that issue. Personalized letters are always most effective.
- You know much more about children’s issues than your elected official. Leverage your knowledge to educate and build up a relationship with your elected official so that you are seen as a resource for information on children’s issues and possible legislation.
- Sharing stories about children and their families and how they are affected by an issue is very effective at building support for your position.
- Legislators’ staff members are a wonderful resource. Developing a good relationship with legislative staff can lead to direct contact with a legislator over time.
- Typically Michigan Senators and Representatives hold informal meetings in their districts approximately once a month. These forums are to engage residents and inform legislators about issues important to their constituents. Many coffee hour times and dates will be posted in your local newspaper, or you can call your legislator's office for this information.
- Many Senators and Representatives are embracing social media as a way to keep their constituents informed on the budget, policy, and legislation they are crafting. Search for your legislators on Facebook, Twitter and most even have their own official website.
Phone Calls, Letters, and E-mails
Correspondence from constituents reminds elected officials that the public is tracking specific issues, legislation, and their voting records. Whenever communicating with legislators through a phone call, letter, or e-mail, remember these tips:
|Written correspondence to U.S. representatives and senators takes an extended period of time to reach them because all mail is carefully screened for safety. It is recommended that you fax letters to your representative's and senator's district and Washington, DC offices.|
- Identify yourself as a constituent.
- Make sure you touch on every point you wish you convey.
- If possible, keep written correspondence to one page, and phone calls to five minutes.
- When addressing a specific piece of legislation, refer to the bill number.
- Include factual and, if possible, local information and examples that support your viewpoint.
- Stay on topic - discuss one issue per written communication or conversation.
- Include a call to action, specifying what you want the lawmaker to do.
Use our quick database to directly contact the Governor as well as your Federal and State elected officials.
If making a phone call, practice your remarks. The more you rehearse, the more comfortable your will be delivering your message when it counts. Practice with another person to identify any areas where your message isn’t clear or effective.
Visit the State Capitol
Come see the Michigan Legislature passing bills, debating issues, tour the beautiful Capitol Building, and don't forget to call your legislator's office to let them know you are coming. Staff members may be able to arrange for you to meet with your legislator.