Visiting and Contacting Your Representatives
Calling Your Members of Congress
Calling your U.S. Representative or Senator is one of the quickest and most effective ways to influence his/her decisions on legislation relating to diabetes educators and diabetes education. Congressional offices track every phone call they receive from constituents. The more calls they receive on a single issue, the louder the message they receive. It’s easier than you think, and typically takes no more than three minutes of your time.
Always call your Member’s Washington D.C. office rather than his/her local office — DC staff are your most direct line of communication when it comes to phone calls regarding federal legislation. An intern or staff assistant in your Member’s office will be the one to answer the phone and speak with you. Say “hello” and let them know what city or town you’re calling from.
To find your Members of Congress visit the AADE Advocacy Action Center: http://www.diabeteseducator.org/PolicyAdvocacy/ActionCenter.html
Calling Your Local State Representatives
Calling your local state representative’s is easy and effective. When contacting your local state representative you will most likely speak to a member of the representative’s staff and not the member. An intern or staff assistant in your local state representative’s office will be the one to answer the phone and speak with you. Say “hello,” let them know what city or town you’re calling from and why you are calling.
If you do not know who your local state representative is, or how to contact them, visit the AADE Advocacy Action center: http://www.diabeteseducator.org/PolicyAdvocacy/ActionCenter.html
Emailing Congress or State Legislature
Email is the most popular choice of communication with a congressional or state legislative office. Every Member of Congress or State Legislator has a public email address. Legislators may receive thousands of emails a day from their constituents. If you decide to write an email, this list of helpful suggestions will improve its effectiveness:
1. Your purpose for writing should be stated in the first paragraph of the letter. If your letter pertains to a specific piece of legislation, identify it accordingly, e.g., House bill: H. R.____, Senate bill: S.____.
2. Be courteous, to the point, and include key information, using examples to support your position.
3. Address only one issue in each email; and, if possible, keep the email to one page.
Note: When emailing to the Chair of a Committee or the Speaker of the House, it is proper to address them as: Dear Mr. Chairman or Madam Chairwoman; or, Dear Mr. Speaker.
Visiting Capitol Hill or Your State Capitol
Meeting with a member of Congress, state legislator or congressional/legislative staff is a very effective way to convey a message about a specific legislative issue. Below are some suggestions to consider when planning a visit to a congressional or legislative office.
Plan Your Visit Carefully:
Be clear about what it is you want to achieve; determine in advance which member or committee staff you need to meet with to achieve your purpose.
Make an Appointment:
When attempting to meet with a member, contact the Appointment Secretary/ Scheduler. Explain your purpose and who you represent. It is easier for congressional and legislative staff to arrange a meeting if they know what you wish to discuss and your relationship to the area or interests represented by the legislator.
Be Prompt and Patient:
When it is time to meet with a legislator, be punctual and be patient. It is not uncommon for a member of Congress or the state legislature to be late, or to have a meeting interrupted, due to the member's crowded schedule. If interruptions do occur, be flexible. When the opportunity presents itself, continue your meeting with a member's staff.
Whenever possible, bring to the meeting information and materials supporting your position. Legislators are required to take positions on many different issues. In some instances, a member may lack important details about the pros and cons of a particular matter. It is therefore helpful to share with the member information and examples that demonstrate clearly the impact or benefits associated with a particular issue or piece of legislation.
Members of Congress or the state legislature want to represent the best interests of their district or state. Wherever possible, demonstrate the connection between what you are requesting and the interests of the member's constituency. If possible, describe for the member how you or your group can be of assistance to him/her. Where it is appropriate, remember to ask for a commitment.
Be prepared to answer questions or provide additional information, in the event the member expresses interest or asks questions. Follow up the meeting with a thank you email that outlines the different points covered during the meeting, and send along any additional information and materials requested.