Lawmakers can’t address your concerns if they don’t know what they are. It’s your responsibility to clue them in.
You may feel as though you are one small voice in our big country, but if you don’t speak up, who is going to do it for you?
OOIDA has a membership of more than 159,000 professionals in the trucking industry. If all members did their part to contact their elected officials, it would have a powerful effect on the decisions lawmakers make.
There are several ways to educate your lawmakers: write a letter to them, make a telephone call to their offices, send them e-mail or meet with them in person.
Second only to meeting with the lawmaker, letters are the most respected form of communication from constituents. A letter writer is much more likely to get a response from a legislator.
Letters do not have to be long, complicated or literary masterpieces. Simply state your concern about an issue in your own words, speaking from your heart. Keep it to one subject.
At the beginning of the letter, state clearly what your subject is and your position on it. If your letter pertains to a specific piece of legislation, it helps to include the bill number. After that, personalize the letter by describing how the issue affects you. Then ask them to help you.
Make sure you type or write your name and complete address clearly so that they know where to send a response. Lawmakers pay particular attention to letters because an individual person has taken the time to write them. Legislators often believe that a well-written letter represents the views of many constituents who did not take the time to write.
Letters can be sent by regular mail or fax. Because of mail screening processes, a faxed letter could reach a legislator’s office as much as two weeks earlier than a letter sent through the mail.
E-mail is not yet a sure method of communication with lawmakers. Some offices reply and some do not. The trend, however, is to respond to all e-mails with an automatic general acknowledgment e-mail and then follow that up with a traditional letter reply if the e-mail sender lives in the lawmaker’s jurisdiction and has provided his or her postal address in the e-mail message.
There is no guarantee that a phone call will get nearly the same time and attention from a lawmaker or a lawmaker’s staff as a letter. However, there still are significant benefits to phoning lawmakers, especially when time related to an issue is limited.
If you do decide to call your elected officials, the first thing to do is ask to speak to the legislative assistant, sometimes referred to as an L.A., who is handling the issue you are calling about. If you are calling about issues related to trucking, ask for the “transportation L.A.” If the staffer is not there, ask for his or her name, leave a voice mail, and keep calling until the staffer takes or returns your call.
No matter how mad you are about an issue – or at lawmakers – always try to communicate in a civil tone and use respectful language. If you are upset, by all means tell them, but do not use them as a punching bag for your words. You want them to be sympathetic to your words, not turned off.
Write or phone
Call OOIDA’s Membership Department at 1-800-444-5791 and staff will look up the contact information for your sate representative and senator for you. See Page 54 for contact information for your U.S. representative and senators. LL