How Do You Communicate With Your Legislators?
One of the best things that you can do in order to ensure that your senators and representatives are paying attention to issues that you care about is to get face-to-face time. This may be in the form of a town hall meeting or going to their local offices. If you are in Washington, D.C., go to their offices and have an in-person meeting with them. When you go, ask a lot of questions and voice your concerns. The more you do this, the better. Calling your state and local legislators are easy once you learn these steps.
Those in-person meetings, obviously, cannot happen every day. The next best thing you can do is call them. Today, there is a great deal of concern as it relates to the state of our environment. Calling your state and local legislators concerning environmental issues is an effective way to get them to pay attention and act. The more present and vocal you are, the more chances there are that something will get done.
Get Proactive When it Comes to the Environment
Each and every day, senior staff for legislators, as well as senators and representatives, get reports of the most called about topics within their offices. These reports include details about how many people called concerning these topics, what was said, and what areas the callers were from. Calling your legislators about environmental concerns and having your calls included in these reports is what forces movement in the legislative space.
Calling Your State and Local Legislators for Environmental Concerns
In an effort to help you take action, here are some tips for calling your state and local legislators concerning environmental concerns:
Know the Facts About the Issue
Prior to calling your legislators about environmental concerns, be sure to have the basic information about your topic in front of you when you make the call(s). You should be able to easily describe the specific topic about which you are contacting them and state your opinion on what your legislators should or should not do.
Speak to the Right Person
When making a phone call to a Washington, D.C. office, ask for the staff member that is tasked with dealing with environmental concerns. Local offices may not have a designated staff member for specific concerns, but there is a chance that they may. If you are transferred to someone, that is great. If you are not transferred to someone and they instead ask to take a message, make sure to get the name of the person you are speaking with and keep a record of that.
Make it Clear that You’re a Constituent
Let them know you are a constituent. Elected officials are most interested in your thoughts and opinions if you are their constituent, so be sure to say what city and zip you are from. One of the reasons that some staffers will ask for your zip code is that they are keeping a note of who calls from their voting area. The legislator for your voting area wants to make sure they get or retain your vote, so there is a better chance of being heard if you make it known you are calling from their voting area.
Get Personal; the Environment Affects Everyone
Aim to make the message you convey a personal one. Tell them something about yourself and why the environmental concern you are calling about is so important to you on a personal level. Maybe a particular environmental issue is affecting your economic wellbeing or perhaps there are critical water quality issues in your area that are affecting health, the economy, and more. Try to share a personal story that tells something about you and why this topic is so concerning to you.
Make it Concise
Try to be clear and concise. Yes, it is their job to listen to you, but they are answering calls all day, every day. You want your message to be as clear and concise as it can be so that it resonates with the person you are speaking with and it is conveyed clearly to the legislator. Do not leave any ambiguity and if there is a vote coming up, say so and mention how you will vote if the legislator does not act regarding your concerns.
Be Confident; The Awkwardness Will Pass
Get past the awkwardness. You may feel awkward calling your state and local legislators concerning environmental concerns at first. This is common. Once you start doing it more frequently, you will get the hang of it and it will become second nature. Focus on how important it is that you are calling your legislators in regard to environmental concerns and that your actions can and will make a difference.
Calling your legislator’s office is a very useful way to communicate your opinions, especially on issues where there is an action pending, as a vote. Just a few calls into an office over a short period of time can help to bring an issue to the attention of a legislator and can have a significant impact.
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