A well-written concise letter under your letterhead (home or office) is almost always preferable to emails or phone calls, and certainly to form letters. Close your letter with a question asking the member what specific action he or she will take to follow-up on your request (i.e. cosponsoring, supporting, or opposing a specific bill) and thank him/her for considering your views. If time is of the essence…use email, fax, or the phone!
Address your letter correctly:
State Senator: Honorable Jane Doe Michigan Senate P.O. Box 30036 Lansing, MI 48909 Dear Senator Doe:
State Representative: Honorable John Doe Michigan House of Representatives P.O. Box 30014 Lansing, MI 48909 Dear Representative Doe:
How To Meet In Person With Your Legislator: • Schedule the meeting in advance, whether you will meet in the district or in the Capitol. Be prepared to specify what the meeting will be about. Consult with MPS staff on issues. • Be on time, be prepared. Take material with you as well as your business card. You will rarely have more than 15-20 minutes to state your case. • Personalize the issue. Rather than stating that a bill is “unfair,” explain how this would affect your practice and/or your patients. • Volunteer to be a resource contact. • Follow up with a thank you note and any additional information that may have been requested.
Tips: • Identify yourself as a psychiatric physician (legislators may be unaware that psychiatrists are physicians) and a constituent (if you live in the Legislator’s district). • Identify clearly the specific issue or bill you are writing or meeting about. Contact the MPS office for talking points or other information. • Be brief. Be sure to have the facts. State your reasons for support or opposition. Ask your Member for a specific action (i.e. cosponsoring, supporting, or opposing a specific bill) and thank him/her for considering your views. • Recognize that Legislators are very busy and must weigh issues and assess competing interests. You may meet with staff in lieu of the Legislator—this is not a disappointment, but an opportunity to go into an issue with a bit more depth. • Print your letter on letterhead if possible. Be sure to include your address on the letter itself—this is often overlooked on email letters (choose home or work address if it will locate you in a key district). • Important: copy the Michigan Psychiatric Society on your letter and mail, and email or fax a copy of any response received to the MPS office.