Connecting With Your Unicameral
“Citizens need personal contact with legislators, and legislators need personal contact with citizens. The Nebraska Legislature is a very people-oriented institution.”
- Clerk of the Legislature Patrick O’Donnell
Contacting your Senator
- The best way to set up a meeting with a senator is to contact his or her legislative office and work with the staff member that handles the senator’s schedule. Tell the staff member what you want to see the senator about, which will allow the senator to be prepared for your meeting.
- Arrive at the meeting prepared to explain your reasons for the visit, outline your position and then ask if the senator has any question. Provide written materials with your name and contact information to leave with the senator, if possible.
- Write a thank you note after the meeting, outlining the meeting conversation. Offer yourself as a resource for answering further questions.
- If you wish to talk with a senator personally, you will have better luck if you call before 9:00 a.m. or after 4:00 p.m. when they are not working on the legislative floor. If the senator is not in ask if they will return your call, or when you should call back.
- In leaving a message, give your name, city and a brief message about the reason for your call. Staff will see to it that your thoughts are forwarded to the senator. Make a point to remember the staff member’s name. This will assist in necessary follow-up; you will know who best to speak with and they will also be more inclined to remember you. Building relationships with staff is often as important as a relationship with the senator. They facilitate access to the senator.
- Written letters are effective because they allow constituents to be complete and precise about their needs and positions.
- Try to state your points in one page, providing supporting materials, if needed, on a separate page.
- Taking a constructive approach to the issue is more likely to receive attention.
- Personal letters are much more effective than form letters.
- Many senators, but not all, have public email addresses available on the Legislature’s web site.
- It is best when contacting a senator by email to treat it like a regular letter, including your name and contact information at the bottom of the note.
- Because of the large volume of email a senator’s office receives, one should not expect to automatically receive a response to every message sent.
- A written letter is the preferred method of written communication.