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How to Influence Your State Legislator

Communicating with Your State Legislator
Historically, members of United Methodist Women have been on the front lines in the battles against poverty and injustice. Today, in an era of political change, and as power shifts increasingly from the Federal government to the states, our advocacy work and visibility outside Washington, D.C., are critical to achieving justice.
Devolution of Federal Power. In recent years, major efforts have been made to shrink the size and activities of the national government. Passing to the states the federal government’s functions in areas such as welfare, health care and job training is known as devolution.
State Authority. The executive, legislative and judicial branches of the Federal government have all favored increasing state authority. With the government’s diminished role in social programs, states have greater opportunities to offer solutions for the nation’s problems. As they address issues such as health care coverage, tax relief and education, state legislators often consider new ways to respond to voter needs. This means that, more than ever, our voices need to be heard at the state level. As advocates for justice, we must ensure that state governments are held accountable and that equal opportunities and equal protections exist for all people.
Contact Your Congressional Representative on Legislative Issues
Contacting a State Legislator. Informing state legislators of your opinions on issues and legislation ensures that your voice is heard! Your first contact with a state legislator to express your concern or request an appointment should be a letter, either handwritten or e-mail.
A handwritten letter is generally the best way to make an initial contact, unless you have a personal introduction to the legislator. If possible, do not type your letter, and definitely do not send form letters, as they do not reflect your personal interest and intensity of concern.
E-mail is fast and reliable, but senators, representatives, and their staffs sometimes are too busy to respond to cluttered e-mail boxes. Find out if a legislator will receive e-mail before sending it.
However you make your first contact, state clearly your objective, your topic of discussion and your intentions of meeting with the legislator. An effective letter will demonstrate your knowledge and interest in a specific area. You may describe a relevant personal experience to illustrate a point. Keep your letter short and to the point.
Meeting with a State Legislator. Legislators are usually receptive to visitors at the state capitol buildings. Scheduled appointments are helpful, but are not always necessary. If you visit without an appointment, speak with a staff person who will address your subject matter, and leave materials and contact information for the legislator. Call the local office for an appointment, and go to the meeting with a planned strategy.
Before you go, do research, read news articles on your subject of concern, and be aware of your legislator’s views on it. Develop a list of questions to guide your conversation. Before your meeting, determine what next steps are required. Engage the legislator in such a way that a commitment to follow up is made before the end of the meeting. Leave your contact information and support materials with the legislator, and afterwards send a thank-you letter that also summarizes your conversation.
Advocating at the State Capitol. Learn the rules for visiting hearings and for testifying. Become a spokesperson for the cause you support. Research the legislation in question and know the impact it will have on the public. Develop a brief theme that sums up the reason for your position. When you speak or write, be clear and concise.
Action Alerts
United Methodist Women’s Public Policy Office in Washington, D.C., helps inform policymakers on the positions of United Methodist Women on issues affecting women, children and youth. It also provides United Methodist Women members with advocacy information such as Action Alerts.
Produced monthly, Action Alerts provide background information on an issue, describe current legislation around it, and alert readers to actions that can be taken on national and local levels.
Mission Coordinators for Social Action
Every conference organization of United Methodist Women has a Mission Coordinator for Social Action. These women can help you identify key legislative issues in your state; develop ways to link local concerns to state and federal issues; offer ways to best organize letter-writing campaigns; and advise you about the Untied Methodist Church’s position on a particular issue or legislation. You can find out who your Mission Coordinator for Social Action is by contacting the Washington Office: <font color="#5f71b6">umwanet@gbgm-umc.org</font>
Ecumenical and Interfaith Organizations
Valuable resources for members of United Methodist Women include national and international ecumenical and interfaith organizations. The National Council of Churches (NCC) represents more than 30 Protestant and Orthodox churches in the United States in its work for peace and justice. In an increasingly diverse and global society, the NCC promotes harmonious relations among Christians, Muslims and Jews, as well as other faith groups such as Buddhists and followers of Native American religions. For more information about the NCC Ecumenical Network, call the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA at 212-870-2227.
Other faith-based organizations include the Jubilee USA Network and Church Women United. The Jubilee USA Network grew out of the global movement to cancel the international debts of the world’s poorest countries. There are local jubilee coalitions throughout the United States. For more information about the Jubilee Network and to find a contact in your local area, call 202-783-3566.
Contact Addresses by State


Alabama Legislature
State House
11 South Union Street
Montgomery, AL 36130

Alaska State Legislature
Alaska State Capitol
Juneau, AK 99801-1182

Arizona Legislature
Capitol Complex
1700 West Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ 85007-2890

Arkansas General Assembly
State Capitol Building
Little Rock, AR 72201

California Legislature
State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 95814

Colorado General Assembly
Colorado State Capitol
200 East Colfax
Denver, CO 80203

Connecticut General Assembly
Legislative Office Building
Hartford, CT 06106

Council of the District of Columbia
441 Fourth Street NW
Suite 716
Washington, DC 20001

Delaware General Assembly
Legislative Hall
P.O. Box 1401
Dover, DE 19903

Florida Legislature
The Capitol
Tallahassee, FL 32399

General Assembly of Georgia
State Capitol
Atlanta, GA 30334

Hawaii State Legislature
Hawaii State Capitol
415 South Beretania Street
Honolulu, HI 96813

Idaho State Legislature
Idaho State House
700 West Jefferson Street
Boise, ID 83720

Illinois General Assembly
State House
Springfield, IL 62706

Indiana General Assembly
State House
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Iowa General Assembly
State Capitol
Des Moines, IA 50319

Kansas Legislature
300 SW 10th Avenue
Topeka, KS 66612-1504

Kentucky General Assembly
State Capitol
Frankfort, KY 40601

Louisiana Legislature
State Capitol
Baton Rouge, LA 70804

Maine State Legislature
Maine State House
Augusta, ME 04333-0007

Maryland General Assembly
State House
Annapolis, MD 21401

Massachusetts General Court
State House
Boston, MA 02133

Michigan Legislature
State Capitol
Lansing, MI 48909

Minnesota Legislature
State Capitol
75 Constitution Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55155-1606

Mississippi Legislature
New Capitol
P.O. Box 1018
Jackson, MS 39215-1018

Missouri General Assembly
State Capitol
Jefferson City, MO 56101


Montana State Legislature
P.O. Box 201706
Helena, MT 59620-1706

Nebraska Unicameral Legislature
State Capitol
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509-4604

Nevada State Legislature
State Capitol
401 South Carson Street
Carson City, NV 89701-4747

New Hampshire Legislature
State Capitol
Concord, NH 03301

New Jersey State Legislature
State House Annex
P.O. Box 068
Trenton, NJ 08625-0068

New Mexico State Legislature
State Capitol
Santa Fe, NM 87501

New York State Legislature
Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247

North Carolina General Assembly
State Legislative Building
Raleigh, NC 27603-2808

North Dakota State Legislature
Legislative Assembly
600 E. Boulevard Ave.
Bismarck, ND 58505-0360

Ohio General Assembly
State House
Columbus, OH 43215

Oklahoma Legislature
State Capitol
2300 North Lincoln Blvd.
Oklahoma City, OK 73105

Oregon Legislative Assembly
State Capitol
900 Court St. NE
Salem, OR 97301

Pennsylvania General Assembly
Capitol Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120

Rhode Island General Assembly
State House
Providence, RI 02903

South Carolina Legislature
State Capitol
Columbia, SC 29211

South Dakota
South Dakota State Capitol Building
500 East Capitol Ave.
Pierre, SD 57501-5070

Tennessee General Assembly
State Capitol
Nashville, TN 37243

Texas Legislature
State Capitol
Austin, TX 78711

U.S. Virgin Islands Unicameral Legislature
Capitol Building
P.O. Box 1690
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, VI 00804

Utah State Legislature
310 State Capitol
Salt Lake City, Utah 84114

Vermont General Assembly
State House
Montpelier, VT 05602

Virginia General Assembly
State Capitol
Richmond, VA 23218

Washington Legislature
State House
Olympia, WA 98504-0482

West Virginia State Legislature
State Capitol
Charleston, WV 25305

Wisconsin Legislature
State Capitol
Madison, WI 53707

Wyoming State Legislature
Wyoming State Capitol
200 West 24th
Cheyenne, WY 82002



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