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Effectively Communicating with Your State Legislator. by Matt Sande Director of Legislation Pro-Life Wisconsin. Know them!. Legislators respond best to people they know and can rely on who live in their district.

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Effectively Communicating with Your State Legislator

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    1. Effectively Communicating with Your State Legislator by Matt Sande Director of Legislation Pro-Life Wisconsin

    2. Know them! • Legislators respond best to people they know and can rely on who live in their district. • To find out who your state legislators are, please go to the PLW website at www.prolifewisconsin.org and scroll over the Legislative Affairs menu item at the top of the page. A drop down menu will appear. Click on the Speak Up icon and then scroll down the page and click on Who Are My Wisconsin Lawmakers? • Type in your street address, city and zip code. The names and contact information (phone/email/address) of your state senator and state representative will appear.

    3. Build a relationship with them! • All politics is local! • Building any relationship (personalor professional) takes time • You want to establish a genuine, personal rapport • You don’t have to be from the same political party or agree on every issue • Your goal is to become a valuable, honest, and reliable resource on life issues

    4. Build a relationship with them!(continued) • Take the initiative and invite them to your affiliate meeting / PLW will help you • Meet them at a district event (Chamber of Commerce event, public hearing, forum, etc.) • Introduce yourself, tell them you are a pro-life leader and would like to stay in touch • Write a short note, restating your brief meeting, and thanking him or her for their time

    5. Communicate with them! • Your voice is more influential than a lobbyist’s voice • Your legislator represents YOU! • You are a committed voter…you have power! • Your letter/call/e-mail means more than you think!

    6. Communication basics • Write a letter • Send a fax • Send a PLW prepared postcard • Call their Madison office directly • Call their District office directly (their home)

    7. Communication basics(continued) • E-mail • Visit • Capitol office • In district office hours

    8. Letter writing • Short of a personal visit, written communication to your legislator is one of the most effective ways to deliver your message • You can deliver the message by mail, by fax or by sending an e-mail • Constituent letters that are well written and briefly explain the issue and its impact will be noticed and retained in a legislative office

    9. Sample letter Dear Senator / Representative Johnson:

    10. Introduction • State the subject • Use the bill # or title of the bill • Tell them who you are and the name of your affiliate

    11. Body • Explain the issue briefly, factually, and passionately in a simple and understandable way • State your position on the bill or measure; if you support or oppose • Be polite and respectful / never criticize • Give an example of the issue’s local impact (maybe in your own family)

    12. Conclusion • Thank the legislator for his or her consideration of or attention to the issue • Let them know that you are a pro-life resource for them and can give them more information if requested

    13. Tips for effective letter writing • Limit the length of your letter to no more than two pages, one if possible • A single, well-written letter from a well-known constituent may be more likely to influence a legislator’s decision than an avalanche of post cards • Give your credentials when appropriate • Express appreciation for past or future support

    14. Use PLW Speak Up webpage to email • Scroll over the Legislative Affairs menu item at the top of the page. A drop down menu will appear. Click on the Speak Up icon and then scroll down the page to Email Your Government Officials • Use the links listed under Email Your Government Officials to send your email to your state senator and state representative. • PLW will receive a copy of your email which will enable us to monitor the activity of our grassroots advocacy campaigns.

    15. Phone calling • When time is short, a personal phone call to a legislator or legislative aide is an effective method to communicate your views • Your call is most likely to receive attention if you have developed a personal relationship with the legislator or staff

    16. Phone calling(continued) • On a hot issue, calls can often be “logged” and you may not get past the receptionist / that’s OK, he or she will at least register your support or opposition to a particular bill • Making a well-timed call can be very important, especially in combination with other pro-lifers in your affiliate / it may tip the balance in your favor, so DON’T HESITATE TO CALL!

    17. Tips for effective phone calling • Focus on a single issue, making 2 or 3 key points in your phone call • Have notes in front of you to stay focused on the message you are delivering • Localize the issue to demonstrate the impact on the legislator’s own constituents • Clearly state the action you wish the senator or representative to take on the issue (vote for, vote against, offer an amendment, delete a provision, etc.)

    18. Tips for effective phone calling(continued) • Keep your call brief – no more than 3 or 4 minutes • If asked a question you can’t answer, tell them you’ll get the answer and get back to them • Leave your name and telephone # with the staff to whom you’ve spoken in case they have questions later • Write down the name of the staff person you spoke with so that next time you can ask for him or her by name / this will help you build a relationship with the staff • Staff are more likely to listen to and return the phone calls of constituents they know • If you prefer to leave a message with your state legislator, please call the toll-freeStateLegislative Hotline at (800) 362-9472.

    19. Personal visits with legislators and staff • Know where your legislator stands on life issues (PLW staff can provide information on this) • Be considerate of your legislators’ time constraints • Be prepared, be informed about what you’re saying • Know the topic, bill number, main arguments, etc. • Know your opponents main arguments • Educate – Don’t preach

    20. Personal visits with legislators and staff (continued) • Keep your message simple and straightforward – don’t confuse the issue • LISTEN to your legislators views on the issue • Answer their questions and acknowledge their insights • Understanding their view, whether or not it concurs with yours, will provide valuable insight into how you might support or change their view

    21. Personal visits with legislators and staff (continued) • Leave a briefing paper after the visit, highlighting your key points (PLW will provide you written policy memos) / include your name and contact information for follow up • Write a thank you note after the visit / write a note to the legislator’s staff if they attended the visit • ALWAYS be polite and courteous, even when you disagree

    22. Go the Extra Mile! • Know the committee your legislator chairs • Know the committees your legislator serves on • Do they impact pro-life issues? • What time of the year is it? • Is the Legislature in session? • Is it a budget year? (odd years) • Is it an election year? (even years) • Who holds the majority in the Senate, Assembly?

    23. Keep PLW “in the loop” • PLW needs to know what your legislator is telling his/her constituents • Send / forward responses from legislators to the PLW state office (email me at msande@prolifewisconsin.org) • Use www.prolifewisconsin.org to monitor and research legislation • Use the Wisconsin Legislature’s website to access bills and other legislative info: www.legis.state.wi.us • PLW will bend over backward to get you the bullet points, memos, policy papers, and any other material you need to be an EFFECTIVE PRO-LIFE VOICE and RESOURCE for your legislators