Communicating with Your Legislators

 

Writing Your Legislator

1.  Write your own senator or delegate.

2.  Write when it is practical.

3.  Be courteous and identify yourself as a school counselor, licensed professional counselor, counselor students, and/or VCA member, and as a constituent.  Give your full address.

4.  Whenever possible, identify bills by number.  Otherwise, clearly describe the measure.

5.  Be informed about the issue and then write your own views/opinions from personal knowledge or experience. Form letters do not get the attention of the legislator.

6.  Focus on one issue.  Be brief, but write enough to be clear.  Give reasons for your position.  Avoid professional jargon.

7.  Ask questions that require a response.

8.  Check spelling and grammar!  A letter from a professional is expected to be free of careless errors and sloppy sentence and paragraph structure.

9.  Write legislators when they do something you approve of, even if just a simple thank-you.

10.  Do not threaten legislators or pretend to wield vast political influence.  Do not try to instruct your legislator on every issue that comes up.

 

Model Address

The Honorable __________(use full name)

General Assembly Building

Richmond, VA  23219

Dear Senator/Delegate Smith:

___________________________________________________

                        Visiting Your Legislator           

1.   Be respectful and kind to the secretary and the aide.

2.  Make an appointment.  (It is equally important to visit legislators when they are at home as it is when they are in the General Assembly session.)

3.  Be prepared to talk on one or two issues.

4.  Be on time.

5.  Identify yourself as a school counselor, licensed professional counselor, counselor students, and/or VCA member, and as a constituent.

6.  Briefly and concisely share your experiences and first-hand knowledge of education issues.

7.  Leave written materials.

8.  Offer to get more information, if needed.

9.  Be willing to meet with the legislative aide if the legislator is unavailable.

10.  Send a follow-up thank you note

 Telephoning Your Legislator               

1. Give your name and full address.

2. Identify yourself as a constituent.

3.  Identify yourself and your organizational affiliation.

4.  Speak directly to the senator or delegate, if possible.

5.  Be brief and concise.  Focus on one issue.

6.  Indicate your position.

____________________________________________________

 

Before the General Assembly Session

1.  Access the General Assembly website to identify your legislators:

2.  Visit your senator and delegate at their home office.

3.  Share any fact sheets that VCA is promoting.

5.  Motivate your friends and family to make contact with their senator or delegate.

____________________________________________________

 

                 During the General Assembly Session

1.  Identify legislation in which you are interested.

2.  Follow the legislation through action of subcommittee and committee.

3.  Find out your legislators’ committee and subcommittee assignments.  The budget legislation will go through the appropriations or finance committees.

4.  Contact your legislator when legislation reaches their subcommittee, committee, or the floor.

Email delegates:

Del+ delegate’s first initial+ last name@house.virginia.gov

Example:  DelRBrink@house.virginia.gov

Email senators:

district#@senate.virginia.gov

Example:  district28@senate.virginia.gov

____________________________________________________

 

After the General Assembly Session

   Write letters of appreciation to those who were helpful.

 

 

 

 

*Thanks to the Virginia Education Association for this primer.

 

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