Iowa Legislative Protocol

Tips for Writing Your State Legislators

The letter is a direct way to communicate with a state legislative office. When writing a letter, this list of suggestions will improve its effectiveness:

  • Individually written letters, rather than mass generated form letters, make a greater impression on your legislator. Type your name, address, and phone number at the top.
  • Most state legislatures are only in session part of the year.  When the legislature is out of session, it may be more effective to send your letter to your legislator’s district office, if the legislator has one.

Addressing correspondence:

To the State Senate

The Honorable (Full Name)
State House, (Room Number)
Iowa Senate
Des Moines, IA 50319

To the State House of Representatives

The Honorable (Full Name)
State House, (Room Number)
Iowa House of Representatives
Des Moines, IA 50319

  • Be specific. Your purpose for writing should be stated in the first paragraph of the letter. If your letter pertains to a specific piece of legislation, be sure to identify its full name and number, e.g. House Bill: HF_____, Senate Bill: SF_____. Try to send your letter while the issue is still alive.
  • State your position. Explain why you support or oppose this particular issue. Keep in mind that local examples concerning the impact of this legislation are very powerful. Be courteous and to the point, keeping your letter focused on one issue.
  • Ask for a response. Indicate to your legislator that you would appreciate a reply containing his/her position on the issue. “Sincerely yours” is a proper way to conclude your letter.
  • Follow up. If you agree with your legislator’s vote, take the time to let him/her know that. Similarly, if you disagree with his or her vote, inform your legislator.

Tips for Calling Your State Legislators

To find your state legislator’s phone number, you may use our searchable online state legislature directory or call your state’s switchboard at 515-281-5129 and ask for your Senator and/ or Representative’s office.

Keep in mind that most state legislatures are only in session part-time, so try to get the number for your legislator’s district office. Telephone calls are often taken by a staff member and not the actual legislative member. Ask to speak with the aide who handles the issue to which you wish to comment. If they are not available, you may also leave a message. If you speak with someone other than your legislator, take down their name and title.

Upon reaching your state legislator on the phone, it’s easiest to follow these four basic steps:

  • IDENTIFY yourself by name and the organization (if any) that you represent or the town from which you are calling.
  • EXPLAIN why you are calling: “I am calling to support/oppose House Bill: HB_____, Senate Bill: SB_____. ” Be polite and concise. Creating 1 or 2 talking points will focus the content of your message. Too much information may confuse your message. Ask your legislator his/her position on this issue. Don’t assume that your legislator has prior knowledge of your issue. Be calm, respectful, and be prepared to educate, using local examples to accentuate your point.
  • REQUEST a written response to your phone call if you did not speak to your legislative member. If the legislator requires further information, provide it as soon as possible.
  • THANK the person who took the phone call for their time and consideration.

 

Updated January 20, 2014

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