Advocate’s guide to Washington State

by | Mar 29, 2021 | Advocacy, Blog, News / Press Release | 0 comments

Washington has 49 legislative districts (you can find your district here) and each district has two Representatives and one Senator that represents that district’s constituents in the Washington House and Senate, respectively. 

Your legislators are elected to represent your interests and needs, so they need your input to make informed decisions on bills that affect you and your communities. Legislator contact information (including email, office address, and office phone numbers) is all public information and can be found on the Washington State Legislature website.

To inform your representatives of your opinions on a bill or topic, you can:

Comment on a bill

If you know the number of the bill you want to comment on, you can go to the Washington State Legislature “Bill Information” page and enter the bill number there, or you can search by topic, bill sponsor (which legislator introduced the bill), or keywords.

Once you have found your bill, a button on the right labeled “Comment on this bill” will take you to a page for finding your representatives, marking your opinion, and room for comment. 

While you can send any of your legislators a comment about any bill at any time, it is most effective to send a legislator a comment when that bill is in their chamber (ie, House or Senate).

Send an email

When sending an email to your legislators, send it solely to the legislator you are trying to contact; do not copy other legislators or send a mass email. Legislators’ offices get lots of emails, so make your message brief, with no special layouts, graphics, or attachments. Don’t forget to include your full name and your address, so it is clear you are a constituent!

Remember to ask for a response; not only does this indicate to your legislator that you are truly engaged in the issue at hand, but also asks the legislator to be directly responsible to you, the constituent. 

Send a letter

Many of the guidelines to writing an email apply to writing a letter to your legislator. Be concise, use the proper salutation (Representative/Senator), and include your contact information so you are identified as a constituent. 

When sending a letter to a representative, address the envelope to “The Honorable,” followed by the representative’s full name and business address. 

State the purpose of the letter in the opening sentence and if you are referring to a bill, include the bill number and topic. Focus on the message and key points. Personalize the letter by including examples of how the legislation might impact you and your community. Keep the letter brief – not more than one page.

Restate your request at the end of the letter, for example urging them to support or oppose the bill. Thank the legislator for their support and offer to address any questions that he or she might have. Be sure to include your contact information and sign the letter.

Call the legislative hotline

You can call the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000 (TTY for Hearing Impaired 800-833-6388) and leave a brief message on issues of concern or on questions you have about bills or laws. These messages are forwarded electronically to the appropriate legislators. When leaving a message, be prepared to give your name and street address. 

Attend a Committee Public Hearing

When a bill is being considered, it will go through one or more committees to make amendments and/or recommend whether the bill should go forward. During this process, the committee will hold public hearings for constituents to have their voices heard. This is a great opportunity to express your opinion to a larger group of legislators – not just the legislators representing your district. 

While legislative buildings are closed to the public during COVID-19, you can still participate in virtual public hearings! “Bill Information” pages will list the scheduled committee hearings on a certain bill. During these committee hearings, you can testify live, submit written testimony, and/or simply submit your position on a bill for the record.

The process can seem intimidating, but you are not required to have in-depth legal, civic, or fiscal knowledge to participate. Just remember to be punctual, be brief, and speak from your experience. It’s helpful to have your comments written down ahead of time. 

To find a committee’s schedule, agenda, and documents, use this link hereFor more information on how to testify in committee, here is a link with more detailed instructions. 

Written by hungerintervention

March 29, 2021

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