10 Tips for Talking to Legislators
Tip 1: Get to know your legislators. Read their biography. What committees do they serve on? What are their areas of legislative interest? Is their spouse employed? If yes, what is their profession? Much of this information is available on the State Legislature website at www.lsb.state.ok.us
Tip 2: When you talk to a legislator, tell them your name, your business and, most importantly, tell them if you are a constituent of theirs. Legislators are more likely to accept phone calls or visits from constituents who live or vote in their district rather than individuals who do not have a connection to the district they represent.
Tip 3: Be polite. Listen, even if you don’t agree. Be open, honest and respectful.
Tip 4: Get to know your legislator’s executive assistant. These individuals hold the “keys to access” of the legislator.
Tip 5: Know the issues. You don’t need to be an expert on the issue you are advocating. But, it helps to identify legislation by the bill number and author and, when possible, give the legislator the current status of the bill. Again, this information can be found on the State Legislature website at www.lsb.state.ok.us.
Tip 6: Be specific and concise when you speak. Explain why you support or oppose a measure, but keep it short. Ask for their help.
Tip 7: Know the opposition to the measure. Odds are good you will be asked, “Who opposes this measure?” Know the answer and be honest in your response.
Tip 8: If you don’t know something, admit it and offer to “find out and I’ll get back with you.”
Tip 9: Follow up is very important. Write a note or email thanking the legislator for their time and restating your request or support.
Tip 10: Never threaten. You may need the support of this legislator in the future.
Contacting by phone: It is good to call legislators at the State Capitol before noon, Monday through Thursday, during the legislative session. If your legislator is not there, leave a message that includes your name, phone number and the issue/bill of interest.
Contacting by mail: Address you letter to “The Honorable (insert name)” and put the legislator’s title (example, Dear Senator) in the salutation. Be polite, clear and brief; keep it to one page. Individualize your letter and avoid form letter formats. Ask your legislator to state his or her position on the issues when replying to your letter. Include all your contact information (phone, email, postal address). Contact only your representative.