Writing to decision makers can be very effective, especially if the letter is personal and brief. Mailed letters and emails are both great options for connecting with legislators and agency leaders. Also, watch for alerts on bills and issues from organizations like the OEC, or our sibling organization, the OEC Action Fund. For important legislation, we can set up a form to allow our members to quickly and easily send an email to a legislator about a pressing issue.
Address the letter correctly. This will ensure that your letter reaches its target. For state legislators address your letter to:
1 Capitol Square
Columbus, OH 43215
Ohio House of Representatives
77 S. High Street
Columbus, OH 43266
Use standard business format. This makes it easy to read and shows you are serious.
Be specific. If you are writing about a bill that has been introduced, include the bill number and name (i.e., SB 199, the Debris Landfill bill) and, if possible, the name(s) of the bill’s main sponsor(s). If you’re writing about a regulatory process, include the docket number or other identifiable information.
Keep it brief. Focus on one major point. If you attempt to tackle too many issues in one letter, your main point may be diluted or confusing.
Back it up. If possible, provide a couple of brief, logical arguments as to why the decision maker should support your position. If your local newspaper has editorialized in support of your issue, or community members have written letters to the editor supporting your position, clip the articles and include them. If the OEC, or another trustworthy source, has shared information on the issue, include it.
Make it local. Decision makers are most interested in the impacts that bills or regulations will have in their districts. The more you demonstrate that the issue will have a local impact, the more compelling your letter will be.
Make it personal. If you can tell a story about how this bill or issue will affect you or your family, be sure to include it. Personal stories are more memorable and show the real impact that legislation or regulations can have on constituents. On high-profile issues, there will be a lot of people sharing statistics and other figures. But a personal story will help connect the policy being considered directly to a real person more than any statistic can.
Ask for a specific action. Do more than state your position on an issue. Ask a decision maker to do something that supports your position (i.e., support, oppose, or co-sponsor a bill).
Follow up. Keep track of whether or not the decision maker supports your position. If they do, write or call back to say thanks. If not, call or write to ask why not and encourage them to support the issue down the road.