Tips for Contacting Legislators

 
 

Elected and Appointed Officials:

  • Want to know how pending decisions will affect their constituents.
  • Are not experts in your field.
  • Want to be responsive.
  • Are extremely busy.
  • Are saddled with many conflicting pressures.
  • Live in a world of compromise.
  • Are elected to use their judgment.
  • Won’t base their decisions on your past support.
  • Likely will forget names and faces.
  • Deserve respectful treatment.

Telephone Calls

  • Be prepared before you call. Sketch out your talking points in advance to keep conversation on target.
  • Identify yourself. State your name, bank name and size, address, why you are calling and that you are a constituent, if you are.
  • When calling a public official, you may either leave a message with his or her assistant, if the official is not available, or request that you call be returned.
  • Keep your message brief, simple and specific. Provide a bill number if you are discussing a specific piece of legislation.
  • Ask your legislator to state his or her position on the issue or ask for a written response if they are unsure at the moment.
  • If you do not know the answer to a question, don’t guess. Tell them you will find the information and get back to them. Contact Therese Kuvaas at the MBA at 952-857-2603 for more information.

Letters/Emails

  • Identify yourself. Be sure to include your bank name, size and address in all correspondence.
  • Keep your letter short and to the point. Discuss only one issue. One page is best.
  • Make it personal. Mention a mutual interest or where you saw the legislator. Use your own words.
  • Be respectful. Be positive. State your views courteously.
  • When writing about specific legislation, include bill number and title. Contact Therese Kuvaas at the MBA 952-857-2603 if you have any questions.
  • Write legibly and sign your letter.
  • Establish yourself as a resource. You are an expert in your field.
  • Ask for a response.
  • Write a letter of appreciation if the legislator does something of which you approve. Everyone likes to get complimentary letters. They’re effective, too!

Be persistent. Do not be put off by a negative answer. Follow through. Write again and get others to write.

State Senator
The Honorable _____________
State Capitol or State Office Building
St. Paul, MN 55155

 State Representative         
The Honorable _____________
State Office Building
St. Paul, MN 55155
Dear Senator/Representative ______:


Formal Visits

  • Make an appointment in advance and be on time. Be flexible. 
  • Familiarize yourself with the lawmaker’s position on the issue you plan to discuss.
  • After initial introductions, start the meeting with a comment regarding mutual interests (i.e., friends and local events).
  • State your purpose for the visit. If it is your first visit, you should explain your interest in the issue. Try to localize/personalize the issue.
  • Be friendly, earnest and down to earth. Keep the meeting short, approximately 15-25 minutes.
  • Listen carefully to the legislator’s views; don’t interrupt if you disagree on the subject. You can accomplish more by listening and mentally noting areas of accord or disagreement.
  • Summarize major points, thank them for their time and leave promptly.
  • After this initial contact, you have a base from which to contact the legislator in the future on specific bills.
  • Send a follow-up letter thanking the legislator for his or her time. Invite them to visit your bank when they are back in the district.

Casual Visits

  • Ask to be included on the legislator’s mailing list. Many send out legislative updates and notices of meetings.
  • Check your local newspaper for seminars, meetings and other public gatherings when lawmakers will be in attendance. Attend these functions and talk to your legislator about a particular issue. After a few introductions, the legislator will start to recognize you and your issues.
  • This informal contact is extremely important and can be very helpful in establishing a good relationship with the lawmaker.
  • Invite the legislator to visit your bank. This helps the legislator understand the bank's impact on the local community.