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Contacting Your Legislator

The Colorado Legislature, also known as the General Assembly, has 100 members. There are 65 Representatives and 35 Senators. Each citizen has one State Representative and one State Senator. You can obtain the name of these individuals on the internet by going to Project http://www.vote-smart.org and entering your 9 digit zip code. While this is generally accurate, errors do occur and the best method is to find your county clerk's phone number in the blue pages of the phone book and call them with your address.

Contact can be in many ways with the most successful to least being as follows. Personal one-to-one contact, written original letter, phone calls and e-mails. Anger and threats have no place and will usually hurt one's cause. Attack the issue, not the person. During the legislative session, communications are best directed to a Legislator's Capitol office. Sessions run from early January to early May each year. There are occasionally short special sessions.

Letter Writing

Avoid beginning letters on a righteous note (i.e., "as a citizen and taxpayer"), don't apologize for taking a Legislator's time and don't be vague. Keep letters to one page. Tell your personal story. Use your own words and stationery. Legible, handwritten letters are best. Urge your Legislator to take a specific action - support or oppose the bill or amend it to correct a shortcoming. Be sure to include your address and sign your name. Thank you letters for support given are also important.

Phone Calls

During the ultra busy legislative session, it is unlikely you will be able to directly call your Legislator at his/her office. Colorado Legislators do not have personal staff. You may reach an intern or a volunteer. Always use your name and point out that you are a constituent of their district. Plan your thoughts ahead as you most likely will encounter voice mail. That can be an ok way to communicate. Be prepared to leave a clear message with your key request.

Face to Face Meetings

These are the most effective and least used. Be sure to make an appointment and share who will be attending. Be on time. Unless you are very familiar with the Legislator, avoid breakfast or lunch meetings as distractions may dilute your message. Try to do your homework ahead of the meeting. If you know your Legislator's party and positions, tailor your approach accordingly. Be aware of the arguments against your position and be prepared to answer them. Know that few Legislators make decisions on a purely factual basis. They are sensitive to grassroots opinions and political pressures.

Don't argue and don't let discussion wander. Listen to what is being said. If you don't know an answer, say so and get the answer as soon as possible. Close the meeting on amiable terms even if you don't agree. Follow up with a note of thanks.

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