Tips for Writing to Legislators

Legislators read their mail, especially when the letters are personalized. Since they receive so many form letters, they pay less attention to them. Therefore, your personalized, hand-written note or individualized letter stands out and makes an impact! Here are some tips.

ADDRESS YOUR LETTER TO:

Representative__________
MN House of Representatives
100 Rev. Dr. MLK Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155-1298

Senator__________
Minnesota Senate
75 Rev. Dr. MLK Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155-1606

The Honorable__________
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable__________
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

CONTENTS OF THE LETTER:

  • Identify the issue or the bill name/number at the top of the letter 
  • Address him/her as "Senator___" or "Representative___" 
  • Identify yourself and affiliation (i.e. social worker, NASW member!) 
  • Get right to the point - state your position and/or your request.
  • For example, "I hope you will support/oppose HF____ (House File #; or SF for Senate File)". Give reasons for supporting or opposing the measure. Tell why you think the bill will help or hurt you, your children, your clients, your community.

REMEMBER:

  • Offer your assistance (e.g. to testify at a hearing on the issue)
  • You can ask for more information on the issue
  • Ask for a reply if you want one 
  • Thank them for considering your position

KEEP IN MIND:

  • Be brief - keep it to one page
  • Make it legible
  • Cover only one issue per letter
  • Remember that you are the expert - be informative. The volume is so incredible that legislators cannot possibly know the details of each bill that they must make decisions on.
  • Use terms they will understand; avoid abbreviations
  • Be polite and reasonable - do not lose your temper, even on paper

ABOUT E-MAIL:

Depending on who you are writing to, they may or may not utilize e-mail as a preferred method of interacting with constituents.  Even though e-mail may be easier for you, remember that your message may not be received in a timely manner, or may not be given as much creedance as a hand-written letter would be.  Therefore, handwritten letters are generally recommended. If you know, however, that your specific legislator utilizes e-mail effectively, feel free to contact them via this route, utilizing the tips provided.  And, remember that once you push the "send" button, your words cannot be changed!

ABOUT FAXES:

After the anthrax scares at the Federal level, all mail going to members of Congress at their Washington, DC, addresses must go through irradiation prior to being delivered.  Therefore, faxes and phone calls are the best way to reach members of Congress.  In Minnesota, this is not the case, and handwritten letters remain one of the most effective means to reach your legislator.

IN MINNESOTA:

For the number and status of a bill, call:
House Index
 - 651-296-6646

For your legislator's name and number, call:
House Information Office
 - 651-296-3550 or 800-657-3550

Or,

Go to the web and visit your Minnesota State Legislature.