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Help Make a Difference

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Add your voice to those advocating for people with disabilities.

You Can Do It If You Have Just ...

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Call your legislator
When you need to get in touch with your lawmaker immediately, and don't have time to craft a letter or other written message, that's when it's time to use the most common and effective method of communicating with your lawmakers-make a telephone call! 

Identify Yourself as a Constituent
Lawmakers are most concerned and interested in the thoughts and opinions of their constituents. So, be sure to identify yourself as a constituent. "My name is John Smith, and I live in St Paul…"

Be Brief and Clear
Always limit your telephone call to one subject. Be brief and be specific. Let the office know why you're calling, giving a bill number if possible, explain why the issue is important for you, the community and Minnesota and ask where your lawmaker stands on the issue.

Be Courteous and Ask for a Response
Regardless of where your legislator stands on an issue, never threaten or use abusive language. If the legislator does not support your bill, kindly let him or her know you're disappointed. If the office does not know officially where a lawmaker stands on a specific issue, be sure to ask for a written response after they have had a chance to review it more closely. Always remember to thank them for their time and the work they do at the capitol- remember this is about building a relationship.

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Send a letter to your legislator
As a constituent, your legislators and elected officials know that you are the key to their understanding of issues important to you, not to mention their political futures. They want and need to hear from you on all issues you consider important. 

Stay Focused
Personal messages allow you to present your position without interruption. It lets the legislator know you care about an issue and that you'll watch his or her choices carefully.

Keep your letter short and to the point with just enough facts and figures to enhance your statement. Why does the bill affect you? What is your personal story?

Be Brief, Specific and Courteous
Keep your letter to one page, one issue, and state its purpose in the first paragraph. If your letter pertains to a specific bill, identify it. Always be polite, even if you disagree with your legislator’s views or politics.

Ask for a Reply
Always close your letter by asking for a written response. You are taking the time to write to them, they are your representatives-- they should be able to take the time to write to you. In addition to sending your letters, you may also transmit your letter via fax or e-mail when a vote or decision on an issue is imminent. Faxing and emailing is very popular, as most lawmakers have published fax numbers and email addresses. It's a great way for you to get your letter to your lawmaker in a matter of minutes.

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Visit with Your Legislator
By far, the most effective way to articulate your views to your elected officials and positively affect the outcome of legislation and of policy debates is to speak with lawmakers face-to-face. Being a constituent living in their district will mean you are vey important to them.  

First, you must schedule an appointment. If the legislator is unavailable on your selected meeting date, meet with the staff member who handles the issue. These meetings are extremely effective.

The Meeting
When meeting with the legislator or legislative assistant, be sure to discuss how the legislation will directly affect you, your friends and your family. Personal stories really make an impact and truly achieve results. Remember to break down your meeting into:

1.       Introduction

2.       The issue that is most concerning you

3.       Your personal story related to the issue

4.       Ask for them to support you.

Always be polite, and follow up your visit with a personal letter thanking the legislator or staffer for his or her time. Also, be sure to offer your expertise or assistance on the issue in the future.


Other Ways to Make a Difference

Write a letter to the Editor
Studies show that people read the letters to the editor section more than they read the editorials by journalists. Plus, letters to the editor are widely read by political and community leaders to keep in touch with public opinion about current issues in their communities. This is why it’s critical that they hear from the disability community on a regular basis.

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