While not everybody can find time to visit their Legislator, everybody can find an hour to write a letter to their Legislator. Not only does it take less time, it is a much less intimidating process since you can do it from the comfort of your home or office. Like personal visits, Legislators keep records of the letters they receive and use this information when making voting decisions.
- Find out Who Represents You: The best resource for learning about your Legislators is probably the Texas Tribune, which keeps a database of all Legislators along with news related to them. Visit the Texas Tribune Directory to find your Legislator. Type in your zip code at the top. From there you will be taken to a State of Texas page displaying all of your representatives. Look for Texas State Representative and Texas State Senator. Once you have this information, you can return to the Texas Tribune Directory where you can find, among many other things, the home office locations of your Legislators.
- Contact Information: The contact information of your Legislator will be in the right-side column of their Texas Tribune Directory listing. This column includes their email address, Capitol office address, home office address and other contact information, as available.
- Choose Your Media: In the past emails were often ignored by Legislators because they were too easy to send. Emails are becoming more acceptable, but sending a letter still has a bit more significance than sending an email. In the end, it is up to you to choose how you want to contact your Legislator.
- Make Your Topic Clear: Whatever media you choose to contact your Legislator, make sure you make your topic and your stance on that topic clear. We recommend including this in a subject line, in the first paragraph and the final paragraph. If you are writing about a specific bill, cite the bill number, author and committee assignment (if applicable) in all of these locations as well.
- Make Your Case: Once you have quickly summarized your topic and stance in your first paragraph, use the body of your letter to make a reasoned stance. If you have expertise that are connected to the issue you are writing about, let your Legislator know. While you do not want to waste your Legislator's time, take this opportunity to clearly state, using facts and reasoned arguments, the logic and reasoning behind your stance. If your letter consists of only your stance on an issue, or rambling about nebulous facts without being tied together in a coherent argument, your stance will be counted, but your impact will be minimal. It is also important to cite your references in an efficient manner, without making the letter too long. One page, two if absolutely necessary, is ideal for letter length. If your Legislator wishes to do more research, give them the resources to do so without weighing them down with too much information. If you need help with research regarding an issue, Secular Texas has plenty of resources available.
Let us know if you write your Legislator, what issue you wrote about and if you got a response!