Your legislators want to hear from you. Your individual letters, visits, calls and e-mails are the most effective tool we have to protect civil liberties in the legislative process.
Legislators listen. (Well, most of them anyway.) They know that one phone call or letter represents the views of hundreds of people who have an opinion on the issue but did not take the time to communicate.
Legislators learn. Legislators deal with many, many issues. Frequently, they are asked to vote on bills they know very little about. Legislators want to know the consequences of the legislation they vote for. By contacting a legislator, you are often educating that person about the issues involved.
Legislators count. Legislators count every phone call, fax, e-mail, and letter on a given issue. The number of constituents or other interested parties who contact them may determine how high (or low) a priority a legislator gives a bill.
Legislators respond. Legislators respond to contacts. The more personal the contact, the better the response. A telephone call or fax gets logged in a book and counted by the legislator: so many for the bill, so many against. An e-mail or letter will often get a direct response from the legislator.
An in-person visit is best. Even if you don’t speak to the legislator, your interest is noted. An in-person visit means that you cared enough to spend your time going to Legislative Hall. Things can change if a legislator believes an issue is important to voters.
If you can’t go in person, make a phone call. And if you don’t have the time to do that either, you can send an email too. But the more personal your contact, the more impact it will have.
What do I say?
Tell the legislator if you are a constituent. Then, tell the legislator why you support or oppose the bill at issue and ask him or her to support your position. If the legislation will affect you personally or if you have a personal story, even one that is second-hand, by all means say so. Often, legislators will retell those stories on the floor during a debate.
And if I want to go in person?
Just go to Legislative Hall in Dover. The Legislature is in session most weeks from January through June on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Legislators are in their offices in the afternoon, so plan your visit for after 12 noon. When you enter the building, you will be asked to present identification and will be given a visitor’s badge.
If either house is in session, you can take a seat on the floor of the chamber or in the balcony to listen to the debate and watch the vote.
Before you travel to Dover, you should go to www.delaware.gov or call 302-744-4351 to be sure that the legislature is meeting and is not in recess. You do not need to make an appointment to see your legislators, although that might be helpful.
In addition to your own legislators, consider visiting the sponsors of the bill or key opponents.
Thanks for helping us in our common efforts!