How to Talk So Your Legislators Will Listen

Do you get emails from a variety of sources asking you to get in touch with your legislators? Do you wonder, "What is the best way to communicate?"  "What should I say?" "What's the best timing?" "What good will it do?"

Thanks to a presentation by Nancy Brumback, chair of the Massachusetts League Legislative Action Committee, an audience of community and League members learned the answers to these questions at an October 19th presentation sponsored by the Jones Library and our League.

The best way to communicate with legislators is, of course, to visit them in Boston or to their local offices. If that isn't feasible then email them. If a bill is coming up soon, make a one-minute lobbying phone call: identify yourself, give your address, and say why you are calling.

What to say? You need to give your name, the bill number, what action you want them to take, and reasons for your views. Sharing a personal experience will reinforce your ideas. Be brief, polite, and follow up with a thank you.

Every year more than 6,000 bills come before the legislature, so our representatives need to know what we want them to do. You may think, "Why bother? I know they already agree with me." But it is important for them to hear our opinions, to know there are others who support them, and to be able to say to their colleagues, "I heard from 100 of my constituents and they think..." As Nancy emphasized, "The only way our reps will know is if you tell them!"

Nancy provided useful links on the web site of the Massachusetts State Legislature. To find your own legislators, go to https://malegislature.gov/Search/FindMyLegislator and type in your address. Click on "search" to bring up a page showing both your representative and your state senator. Clicking on either name will bring you to the legislator's page, which provides their state house address, email address, phone number, as well as tabs that allow you to see what bills they are sponsoring or co-sponsoring, the committees they are on, and a map of their district. Or you can find any legislator from the links at https://malegislature.gov/Legislators/Members/Senate and https://malegislature.gov/Legislators/Members/House.

To find out what bills on a particular subject are being considered in the current session, click on the "Bills & Laws" tab up in the main menu and type key words, such as "carbon tax" or "charter school funding" or "affordable housing".

The legislative advocacy efforts of the LWVMA are led by the Legislative Action Committee, composed of the League’s volunteer legislative specialists. The committee decides on support for or opposition to a bill, with the LWVMA board of directors retaining final authority. For a list of bills being followed by LWVMA in the current session, see https://lwvma.org/advocacy/league-supported-legislation/.

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