How to Identify Your Legislators
If you do not know the names of your elected officials, click the link below and enter your zip code to access the information (you may need to log in with your APA username and password). Each person has a representative and a senator. Members, please contact the CPS office if you need any assistance locating your legislators.
Contact Your Legislator by Mail/An Effective Written Message
- Check to see what committees your legislator is on, because he/she may be voting on legislation prior to its arrival to the House or Senate.
- Indicate the subject, bill number, and title of the legislation you are concerned with.
- Focus on a single issue.
- Get to the point as soon as possible.
- Identify yourself as a physician and a constituent.
- Let your legislator know that you have a personal stake in how they vote on a particular issue.
- The more personal the letter, the more likely the legislator will read it. Legislators do not respond well to form letters or mass mailings.
- Include your address and telephone number.
- Sign your letter.
Sending an Email: Email is a quick, inexpensive way of communicating with legislators, but it is often not considered as effective as personal letters. All elected officials now have email addresses for use by constituents. Remember, email messages are generally shorter than letters, so the message should be concise, as always, polite.
How to Contact Your Legislator By Telephone
- Identify yourself and give your address and reason for calling.
- Remain calm and positive.
- Briefly explain your position on the issue or legislation and be prepared to state your reasons.
- Explain why you are personally involved with the issue and how the bill will affect you and/or your practice or society.
- Ask the legislator where they stand on the issue and ask for their support of your position. Ask what additional information they may need to assist them in learning more about the issue.
- Thank the legislator or staff person for listening.
- When a call must be made immediately, you may have the best luck in contacting a legislator at home between the hours of 6 pm – 9 pm.
- You may leave a detailed message on the answering machine asking for a return telephone call.
Face-to-Face Visits/An Effective Oral Message
- Contact the office in which you would like to meet (Capital or District) and ask the scheduler for a convenient time.
- Have common courtesy by arriving for the meeting on time and prepared.
- Compliment your legislator when he or she accomplishes something.
- Know the issues, facts and the opposing argument.
- Be honest, short and concise and easy to understand.
- Be firm about your convictions, but be polite.
- Do not feel you always have to take action on an issue.
- Convey the main ideas/issues you want to communicate.
- Share your professional knowledge, but not your professional language.
- Focus on concern.
- Write thank you notes to express appreciation for the legislators’ time.
Five Key Elements of Successful Communication
- Identify the issue.
- Cite personal connection or describe its local importance.
- Use simple key facts to support your case.
- Make a specific “ask”.
- Say thank you and request follow-up.
- You are our strength.
- There is strength in numbers.
- Attend a community event like the CPS Legislative Reception on March 8.
- Send follow-up letter and offer to work with your legislators on mental health issues.
Advocacy 101: The Bottom Line
- Effective advocacy does note have to be complicated, urgent, or time consuming.
- Use the resources that already exist.
- Your elected official is accountable for representing your interests.
- Your personal touch is in the story telling – the message – the heart of the matter.