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Wednesday
Aug192009

Calling Your Legislators 

Making a phone call is a quick way to tell your legislator to take action on a particular piece of legislation. You can find your federal legislator's phone number on www.house.gov or www.senate.gov. Check your state legislature’s website for local lawmaker contact information.

What to Expect

Before you call, take a few minutes to prepare. You won't have too long to make your case, so you want to be focused and compelling. Be ready to tell the person who answers exactly what you want the legislator to do (it may be helpful to have a list of talking points in front of you while you are on the phone).

What to Say

You will most likely speak with the receptionist or front desk staff first.

When the receptionist answers, state your name, say that you are a constituent (i.e., you live in the legislator's district) and then ask to speak with the staff person who handles the issue(s) you are calling about.

Identify yourself and your issue.

If you reach his or her voicemail, state your name, where you live and why you're calling (For example, “I'm calling to ask that Senator Smith support the Workforce Health Improvement Plan Act). Then ask that the staff person call you back.

Ask about the legislator’s position on the issue.

If you do talk to a staff person or if you get a call back, ask about the legislator's position on the issue. If they support our issues, thank the staff member for the support. If they do not, tell the staff member your personal story (keep it brief) and explain how the legislation affects your health club and your community.

Be clear about your ‘ask.’

Be succinct and clear about the action you would like your legislator to take.

Be prepared to educate.

You might find that the person you are talking to is not familiar with the issue. Take the opportunity to educate him or her and to explain our position.

Follow up.

You might also find that the staff person asks a question you can't answer off the top of your head. That's okay. Say, “I don't know, but I can look into it and send you information.” Follow up promptly. Phone calls are a great way to build a relationship with your legislator's staff, which can make you an important advocate. In the future, the staff may rely on you for information.

Find your legislators in the Elected Official Directory

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