Feedback from constituents is important to elected officials. Contacting your legislator is an easy and effective way to advocate for Penn State. Take advantage of the following advocacy tools to help you prepare for your interaction with your legislator—whether you are conducting written correspondence, phone calls, or face-to-face meetings.
There are four ways to communicate with legislators: email, written correspondence, phone calls, and face-to-face meetings. Although a face-to-face meeting is the most compelling way to make a point, it may not be feasible to schedule a meeting with a legislator on a short notice. Written correspondence and phone calls are also effective and oftentimes more convenient. Remember to copy the Grassroots Network staff on your correspondence and report back any information about the position of your legislator.
Visit Find Your Legislator for contact information for your representative.
Written Correspondence and Phone Calls:
E-mails, letters, and faxes are a convenient and easy way to contact your legislator while a phone call is an effective way to speak to legislators directly. Make sure you state your contact information so your legislator knows that you are a constituent—addressing concerns of constituents is a top priority for legislators.
Here are a few more tips for effectively communicating your position:
- Communicate your point clearly and briefly—be issue-focused. If writing, keep your communication to one page.
- If addressing a particular piece of legislation, include the bill number, title, and subject matter.
- Add a personal touch about how this issue affects you.
- If the legislator asks questions you are not prepared to answer, refer the questions to the Penn State Grassroots Network staff by email or at 888-353-8984.
- Respectfully request the legislator's support on the issue and thank them for their time and consideration.
A scheduled face-to-face meeting is considered the most effective way to communicate with your legislator because it makes the most lasting impression and is relatively easy to schedule. On average, a meeting lasts 15 minutes and should not exceed 30. Here are some tips to help you maximize the meeting's effectiveness:
- Prepare for the meeting by reviewing the latest action alerts, suggested talking points, and any other information that may be relevant to your discussion.
- Be issue-focused and clearly state your point and provide examples of how this issue personally affects you.
- If a legislator disagrees with you, be prepared to politely restate your position and to respectfully listen to the opposing position.
- When you depart, thank the lawmaker for their time, saying that you look forward to working together on another issue in the near future.
Feel free to use these samples as guides for personalizing your letters:
Sample thank you letter (Microsoft Word Document: 20 KB)
Read how the governor and state legislators are involved in the budget process, from budget preparation and submission through enactment and executionBudget Process in Pennsylvania