Know Who You Need to Talk to, and Do it
Know who your state and federal legislators are. You need to make sure you contact theright person who can help you with your issue. Click here* to plug in your address and find out who represents you and your family.
Pick up the phone and make the call to schedule an appointment.
Do not be discouraged if you meet with their staff. Staff members are often less intimidating and have the ear of the legislator. If you impress or move them with your issue they will bring it to the attention of their boss.
Do Your Homework.
Research your legislator's history on your issue. Access their voting record here**
What committees are they on, what issues are important to them, what is their background
both personal and professional? Pay special attention if they "crossed party lines" to vote on your issue or something similar.
Get to know them as a person and bring up relevant information during your meeting. For example, if they have a child or family member with a similar challenge mention it politely. It may create a connection and show you did your homework.
Focus on How it Impacts Their Constituents
At the end of the day they are a legislator because people voted for them. Let them know that your issue is important to those very people.
For example; if you want to advocate for the funding of a new treatment center make
sure to ask the legislator who would have jurisdiction over it.
If it is an issue about education, for example, bring up specific school districts that they will know of and how those students need them to make your issue a priority.
Have a Clear Ask
Asking for something specific is the most effective way to get an elected official's attention. Make the right
ask of the right person. Take a look at the person you are meeting with and their history with the topic and
set a realistic ask.
Things to Ask For:
Introduce, vote for or vote against legislation
Cosponsor legislation introduced by
someone else in the same chamber of the
Send a letter to an agency about a specific
concern or sign onto a letter drafted by
Help you find and gather information from agencies and research services
Submit a statement to the federal Congressional Record or official state
record of legislative action, if applicable.
Become active on a certain caucus that is
working on your issue.
Things to NOT Ask For:
Take action for the specific purpose
of benefitting you and/or your
Sponsor legislation that is not within
House members cannot cosponsor or
vote for Senate legislation, and vice
versa (although they have the option
of introducing companion legislation
in the chamber in which they serve).
State legislators cannot cosponsor or
vote for federal-level legislation, and