Government affects everyone’s life. It’s important for you to stay abreast of government activity—both legislative and administrative—to make sure you understand what it means for your business. Talking to your elected officials about issues important to you and your business is vital to your continued ability to prosper. It’s easy to stay in touch. Your elected officials are eager to hear from you. Without your thoughts, your elected officials can’t make decisions that take your views into consideration.

How to Contact Officials

To help legislators understand the implications of pending legislation, write them a short letter or make a quick phone call. We’ve provided contact information below. Here are some tips on writing a persuasive letter or calling: Traditionally, state and federal legislators are addressed as “the Honorable…” and the Governor is addressed as “His/Her Excellency…” in any written correspondence. The only address needed for federal legislators (Congress) is “U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. 20515″ or “United States Senate, Washington, D.C. 20510.” The address for state legislators and the governor is “State House, Salem, OR.” When writing legislators, it’s best to follow basic stylistic protocols. Here’s one sample format:

Representative NAME OF LEGISLATOR State Capitol, Rm. XXXX Salem, OR 97301

RE: HB 2130, Relating to Mental Health Services

Dear Representative XXXX:

As your constituent, I urge you to support (or oppose) and cast your vote in favor of (or against) HB XXX, which proposes to increase the availability of mental health services for Oregon’s senior citizens.

This bill will provide for state funds for upgrading case management services, and establish drop-in mental health centers for our senior citizens.

Thank you for your attention in this matter. If you have any questions or require clarification, please call me at XXX- XXX-XXXX.

Sincerely,

John Doe 123 Snow Terrace Lane Sandy, OR 97023

• If possible, write your letter on your company’s letterhead. Try to keep it to one page—anything longer may be ignored.

• Respect elected officials’ time. Be concise. Get to the point. Let them know if you favor or oppose the legislation and why. Let them know what you would like them to do—oppose the legislation, vote in support of it, or propose an amendment—and ask for a reply that clearly states what action the member plans to take. You’ve taken the time to contact your elected official, and you’re entitled to know where he/she stands. Remind them that you are following the issue closely.

• Be specific in your letter or phone call. Identify the specific bill you are writing or calling about, using the official bill numbers (example: House Bill 1000 or HB 1000). Thousands of bills are filed in the state legislature and in Congress each year. The bill number will help the legislator identify the bill you’re writing or calilng about. As a rule, never write about more than one issue per letter. Write a second letter if necessary if you want to include more.

• Be friendly and polite but businesslike. Make sure you are organized and know all your facts. You should cover your position, the opposing arguments, and the reason your position is better for your business and their legislative district. Do not ramble.

• Explain who you are, what business you represent, and what you and your business does. If you are a constituent and voter in their district then make sure to mention it. Talk about your business’s role in the community and how many people you employ. Remember, your employees vote, too. Emphasize what you and your business provide to the local community—private investment, contributions and support to local community groups, number of local employees, etc.

• Use facts to bolster your position, and provide specific examples of how a piece of legislation or a regulation impacts your business, your employees, and the region. The more local you make the argument, the more persuasive it will be.

• Mention your membership in the Hood River County Chamber of Commerce. This connection will reinforce the message that the Chamber staff will be delivering in future meetings.