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Wisconsin Capitol

Wisconsin Legislature

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YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE LEGISLATURE.  Here are several pointers to help you influence your representative or senator at the state or federal level.  Make Your Voice Heard with Elected Officials!  They are elected to represent you--they cannot effectively legislate without hearing your ideas and input.  Part of their job is to listen to You!

Writing or E-mailing Your Legislator:

What to Include:

      Identify your subject clearly, including bill number.

      State your views, whether you support or oppose the legislation.

      Keep your message short and simple.  Complicated messages are difficult to understand and harder to explain.  Know your facts and stick to them.

      Personalize your letter.

      Tell your legislator what action you want them to take, such as voting for or against a bill, co-sponsoring a bill, etc.

      Request a response.

      Always thank a legislator if she or he votes the way you want.

      Be timely.  Write when the issue is current so your legislator can still act on your behalf.

      Be sure to let your legislator know if you are a constituent.

Remember to:

      Include your name and address.

      Keep it short, one page is best.

      Write about one issue per letter.

      Be polite.  Rude comments will guarantee an unsuccessful effort.

      Be passionate.  Showing that you care about an issue is fine.  As long as you are polite, passionate letters can be compelling.

Legislators’ Contact Information:

State Senator:  PO Box 7882, Madison, WI 53707-7882 Sen.lastname@legis.state.wi.us

State Representative: Last names A-L: PO Box 8952, Madison, WI 53708.  Last names M-Z: PO Box 8953, Madison, WI 53708 Rep.lastname@legis.state.wi.us

Governor Doyle: Capitol, Room 115, Madison, WI 53702 wisgov@mail.state.wi.us

U.S. Senator Kohl: US Senate, Washington, D.C. 20510

senator_kohl@kohl.senate.gov

U.S. Senator Feingold: US Senate, Washington, D.C. 20510

senator@feingold.senate.gov

U.S. Representative: find your Representative’s contact information at http://www.house.gov or 202-225-3121

President: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20500  president@whitehouse.gov

 

Calling Your Legislator’s Office:

 Remember to:

      Identify your subject clearly, including bill number.

      State your views, whether you support or oppose the legislation.

      Keep your message short and simple.  Complicated messages are difficult to understand and harder to explain.  Know your facts and stick to them.

      Tell your legislator what action you want them to take, such as voting for or against a bill, co-sponsoring a bill, etc.

      Always thank a legislator if she or he votes the way you want.

      Be timely.  Call when the issue is current so your legislator can still act on your behalf.

      Be sure to let your legislator know if you are a constituent.

      You will be asked to provide your name, address and phone number.

      Consider sending a follow-up letter confirming your conversation and summarizing your views.

 Legislators’ Contact Information:

Wisconsin Legislative Hotline: 800-362-9472

Governor Doyle:  608-266-1212

U.S. Capitol Switchboard:  202-224-3121

President Comment Line:  202-456-1414

  

Who Can Lobby in Wisconsin:

 You can lobby without a license if:

      You are not acting on behalf of anyone other than yourself.

      You represent the views of a business or organization, but do so as an unpaid volunteer.

      You represent the views of a business or organization that pays you, but convey those views only to legislators of whom you are a constituent.

You represent the views of a business or organization that pays you, and you convey your views to all or many legislators but do so only occasionally, up to 4 days during a six-month period.

 

Visiting With Your Legislator:

 Remember to:

      Make an appointment.

      Be on time.  Elected officials are very busy.  By showing that you understand the constraints of their time you enhance your standing with the legislator.

      Treat staff just as you would an elected official.  Staff are very important and they help communicate views and positions to their boss.

      Dress neatly.  While this may not seem important, it is.  It shows respect for elected officials and the importance of your issue.

      Be prepared.  Know your facts and stick to them.  Anticipate questions that may arise.

      Be polite and respectful.  Rude behavior will guarantee an unsuccessful effort.

      Prioritize your message points.  Make your most important points first and save supporting points for last.  These meetings may be short or interrupted.

      Tell your legislator what action you want them to take, such as voting for or against a bill, co-sponsoring a bill, etc.  If you have their support, thank them.

      Leave a short summary or background information.  It will help prevent misunderstandings.

      Keep your message short and simple.  Complicated messages are difficult to understand and explain.

      Be passionate.  Showing that you care about an issue is fine.  As long as you are polite, passionate communications can be compelling.

      Ask questions.  Lobbying is a process.  Information we get is a valuable commodity and it guides future lobbying.  Learn about concerns so they can be answered.  You may find out what it will take to get to “yes.”

      Always be honest.  If you don’t know something offer to get additional information to answer the legislator’s questions.

      Say “Thank you.”  Always mention the good things the elected official has done.

      Follow up.  The visit is only the beginning of the process, not the end.  Write a letter re-emphasizing your points.  Ask for a commitment again or thank the officials for any commitments given.

 

Important Legislative Web Sites:

 Wisconsin Citizen Action:

http://www.wi-citizenaction.org

Wisconsin State Legislature:

http://www.legis.state.wi.us

Find Who Your Legislators Are:

http://www.legis.state.wi.us/wamltest

United States Senate: http://www.senate.gov

U.S. House of Representatives:   http://www.house.gov

The White House: http://www.whitehouse.gov

Wisconsin Ethics Board: http://ethics.state.wi.us

Attending a Legislative or Public Hearing:

 Tips for Testifying:

      Dress neatly.  While this may not seem important, it is.  It shows respect for elected officials and the importance of your issue.

      Introduce yourself, it is perfectly appropriate for you to speak as a concerned citizen.

      Be prepared.  Know your facts and stick to them.  Keep your statement to no longer than 3 to 5 minutes.

      Write a statement and submit copies to the clerk.

      Try to anticipate questions and be prepared to answer them.

      Always be honest.  If you don’t know something offer to get additional information to answer questions.

      Pay attention to previous testimony and the legislators’ reaction to it so you can adjust your testimony if needed.

      If you don’t want to speak, you can attend the hearing and register in favor of, or against, the bill.

 

Writing a Letter to the Editor:

 Remember to include:

      Your name, address and phone number for verification.

      Be timely.  Write when the issue is current.

      Keep your message short and simple.  Complicated messages are difficult to understand and harder to explain.  Know your facts and stick to them.

      Keep it short.  Most papers have limits of 200-250 words per letter.

      Write about one issue per letter.

      Be passionate.  Showing that you care about an issue is fine.  As long as you are polite and positive, passionate letters can be compelling.

 Wisconsin Newspaper Association:  www.wnanews.com

 

Calling In To a Radio Talk Show:

 Tips for Calling:

      You will usually be screened by the producer to make sure your comment is on topic of the show.

      Keep your message short and simple.  Complicated messages are difficult to understand and harder to explain.  Get to the point right away because you may not have an opportunity to make a follow-up comment.

      Phrase your point of view as a question to which the guest or host can respond.

      If someone has already made your point, consider whether you need to make it again.  Call-in hosts appreciate callers who advance the conversation to a new area of the topic.

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