Suggestions when contacting legislators:
When you contact a lawmaker about a particular bill, follow these tips to help your message hit its target:
- Refer to the bill by its bill number, such as AB 4309 or SB 102. (AB stands for Assembly Bill and SB stands for Senate Bill.) There are thousands of proposed bills in progress; this instantly tells the lawmaker which one you're communicating about.
- Keep your message short, and stick to the point. The lawmaker wants to know if you're for or against the bill, and why. If you have opinions or concerns on other issues, share those in separate letters, emails or phone calls. Adding them here will blur your message.
- Explain your position in your own words. You don't have to sound like a legal expert.
- Try not to be insulting or antagonistic. A message based on logic and reason is more effective than an attack. When you send an insulting message, the insult usually blocks out the message. The most effective messages sound as if they are phrased to share with a friend about an issue that friends could agree or disagree on – but still remain friends.
- If you're communicating about a bill that's not yet scheduled for a committee vote, contact your local representative. (Lawmakers who represent other parts of the state want to represent their own constituents.) However, when a bill is up for a committee vote, it may be useful to contact all of the committee members, especially the chairperson. Likewise, when a bill is heading to the full Assembly or Senate for a vote, consider contacting the entire membership of the voting body.
Remember, your advocacy is never more important than at election time. That's when candidates lobby you for your votes. Be sure you are registered to vote.