Legislature > Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions About the Minnesota Legislature
How do I contact my legislator? How do I let a Representative or Senator know how I feel about an issue?
One way is to call your legislator's office. (Phone numbers for representatives or senators.) Email is a second method. Email is most effective if it is not a blanket mailing to all members, but a specific mail message to your representative or senator. (Find out who represents you.) When sending an email, remember to include your name, postal address and phone number. (E-mail addresses for representatives or senators.) The best way to get a legislator's attention is with a short, well-reasoned letter. Here are a few do's and don'ts on how to write an effective letter to your representative:
Do . . .
- Be brief; never write more than one page.
- Make your letter neat and easy to read (type or print).
- Make sure you understand the legislative process.
- Identify the issue at the top of the letter and cover only one issue per letter. If you have more than one issue that needs to be addressed, write separate letters for each issue.
- Remember; you're the expert; make your letter informative.
- Identify yourself and the reason for your expertise.
- Get right to the point. For example, you may wish to begin your letter like this: "I hope you will support (oppose) HF or SF___." Give your reasons for supporting or opposing the measure. Tell your legislator why you think the bill, if it becomes law, will help or hurt you, your children, your business, or your community. Explain what it means to you.
- Use terms they will understand and avoid using abbreviations.
- Offer to be of assistance. Offer to testify if there is a hearing regarding the issue with which you're concerned.
- Ask for a reply if you want one. However, keep in mind how many meetings and hearings your legislator must attend. They will call or write to you as soon as they are able.
- Be polite and reasonable. Lawmakers can't please everyone. They may disagree with you. Try to respect their views. Don't lose your temper, even on paper. Tell your legislator what you think and why, but be polite.
- And finally, be sure to say "thanks."
Don't . . .
- Don't use form letters or post cards. Use your own words. Legislators say, "I'd rather get one short, simple, handwritten letter than a hundred form letters that organizations urge people to write. The letters come in stacks 300 deep. Even if they're handwritten, they're word for word the same." Also, use personal or business stationery, or a plain sheet of paper.
- Don't threaten legislators. Legislators say, "Some folks don't know how you stand on an issue, but they'll attack you right off the bat. They'll say, 'Vote for HF____ or else,' and you may already think it's a wonderful idea. Or they'll write, 'Why aren't you supporting this bill, you fool?' and you're the sponsor of the bill. Threats and insults don't work."
- Don't address a legislator as "Congressman."
This is the proper way to address your letter:
Honorable (Full Name)
Minnesota House of Representatives
Room # State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155-1298
Honorable (Full Name)
Room # Capitol Building
75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155-1606
The salutation should read: Dear Mr./Mrs./Miss/Ms. (Surname):
Specific addresses for members of the Minnesota House of Representatives and members of the Minnesota Senate are included in member profiles.
Here are a few more tips:
- Make an appointment. It's best to let your legislator know when you're going to be at the Capitol so he or she can arrange to spend some time with you. Call or write.
- If you're calling about a specific piece of legislation, find out the House or Senate file number and status before you contact your legislator. For help, call House Index at (651) 296-6646.