HOW TO WRITE TO YOUR STATE LEGISLATOR

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A written letter to your legislator is a good way to express your opinion in more detail than in a phone call. Follow these tips to maximize the influence of your letter.

If you are writing on behalf of a coalition or professional office, use your official letterhead.

If you are writing as a parent or other concerned citizen, use plain white paper. If your professional qualifications make you professionally competent to speak about vaccines – or a specific item that is under consideration- note your credentials under your signature.

A legislator’s primary service is to their constituents, so be sure to note your address and identify yourself as a citizen in their district in your letter.

Frame your letter around your personal experiences and observations. Even if you cut and paste a form letter, make a few changes that make it personal.

Tell your legislator why the issue matters to you. Are you a parent of a small child; do care for an immunocompromised person; have you suffered from a vaccine preventable disease; do you care about the health of your entire community? Let them know why this issue is important to you.

If you have certain credentials or experience to speak on the subject, consider offering to be {called as a witness} at an upcoming hearing or event.

Legislators review a large number of bills each year, so be sure to reference a particular piece of legislation by the number and name.

Be clear with your position – and most importantly, the rationale behind your position, and state what action you are asking them to take.

Legislators often make decisions about topics that are not within their professional knowledge. The scientific opinion of doctors or public health professionals can be of great influence.

When we are passionate about a subject, it is easy to write lengthy letters but legislators receive a huge volume of written material every day. It is best to keep your letter brief and succinct. However, it is every important to outline the reason for your position, so identify 1 – 3 main points and support them with clear and concise proof points.

Be timely, and send your letter when a bill is still under consideration and before action required.

Be respectful of your legislator. Do not threaten to vote against them in the next election, or send multiple letters on the same topic.