Communicate With Your Legislators

Its Time to Let Our Legislators Know Who We are and What We Do!

Now that the elections are over it is time to build relationships and introduce ourselves to our legislators. An easy thing would be write/e-mail, call, and/or visit your legislator to congratulate them on their election and briefly share your “story” about how and why you became a nurse anesthetist, what you do every day to care for patients, and how research has shown that nurse anesthetists are excellent, safe, cost effective anesthesia providers.

Ways to communicate with your legislators

E-Mail Your Legislatures

Tips: Please note that because legislators are a very visible target for spam and malicious attacks, they use powerful anti-virus programs. Unfortunately, they occasionally reject legitimate e-mails. Here are a few things you can do to help your message get through quickly and successfully:

  • Type your message directly into the e-mail; their security programs may reject messages with attachments – and even if the attachments get through, they are advised not to open attachments unless they are something they were expecting from a sender they know
  • Use plain text without animation, colored backgrounds or other enhancements
  • Put a subject in the subject line (a descriptive subject such as “nurse anesthesia services” is better than “Hello” because it makes it more obvious that it is a real message & makes it easier for the legislator to find your message again when he or she has information to send you)
  • It’s is more effective to send a personalized message to one member than a general statement to everyone

(Check the Maine State Government Website or search for the legislator’s webpage; often you can e-mail them directly from their webpage)

The Letter

Writing your legislator is always an effective way to communicate. Keep your letter to a single page.
Sample Advocacy Letter
Date
Address

Salutation, (see below)

Using your own letterhead, introduce yourself in the first paragraph. Tell your legislator that you are a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), and how long you have lived in their district.

Use the second paragraph to select one or two talking points to make your point regarding anesthesia practice. Explain why you became a CRNA, what you do everyday in your practice, and if addressing a specific issue how it pertains to your practice. Then identify ways in which this affects your community and patients.

In the final paragraph, conclude with a question such as “Are you willing to support ________(state Bill number/legislation–title) or “If there are any questions I can answer or I can help you in any way please contact me or MeANA.” I look forward to your response. The question format will open the door for continued communication.

Remember to sign your name and include your credentials and address! (MeANA website)

Here’s how to properly address your letter to various elected officials:

To the Governor:
The Honorable (full name)
Office of the Governor
#1 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0001

Dear Governor (last name),

To a State Senator:
The Honorable (full name)
State Senator (if to the President, use President of the Senate)
Senate of Maine
3 State House Station
Augusta, Maine 04333-0003

Dear Senator (last name)

To a State Representative:
The Honorable (full name)
State Representative (if to the Speaker, use Speaker of the House)
House of Representatives
2 State House Station
Augusta, Maine 04333-0002
Dear Representative (last name)

To a U.S. Senator:
The Honorable (full name)
(Rm. #) (Name of) Senate Office Building
United State Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator (Name),

To a U.S. Representative:
The Honorable (full name)
(Rm. #) (Name of) House Office Building
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Representative (Name),
(Specific contact information can be found on the legislator’s webpage)

The Call

The telephone is an effective means of communication when time is short. It can sometimes be a challenge to reach busy lawmakers. Be prepared with your message so that if you are able to speak to the legislator, you project your message with confidence and clarity. Remember: Be prepared; be brief; be clear; be persuasive, be thankful.

If the legislator is out of the office, leave a message. Remember to be courteous to staff. If the issue is one that requires immediate action, let staff know your position on the issue, leave your name and phone number so that your opinion will be recorded and the legislator may return your call.

The Visit

The most effective way to advocate is in person. You’ll need to set up an appointment, and then organize your brief and concise presentation. Unless the legislator wants to extend the visit, ask them to meet with you for 15-20 minutes. Prepare a brief summary of your comments to leave with the legislator as well as documentation that helps confirm your message. Referring to research and local examples to illustrate your point is helpful.

By Facebook or Twitter—

Social media is on the rise and legislators are using it more and more. You can become “friends” or tag them in a post. Please use digression.

Advocacy is not difficult. Once you try it, you’ll gain confidence and realize that with a little preparation you can communicate easily with your legislator.

DOs and DON’Ts of effective advocacy:
• If you are making a personal visit, schedule ahead.
• Always organize your presentation whether you are writing, making a phone call or making a personal visit. Since all politics is local, it is effective to illustrate your point with a hometown or personal story.
• Be brief. If you are making a personal visit, it should be no more than 15 minutes.
• Always be friendly. If your Senator or Representative disagrees with you, simply state your views, listen politely to the opposing position and indicate you hope the two to you can work together on another issue in the future.
• Be sincere. Remember: You are a taxpayer, a voter, a CRNA in the legislator’s district. Elected officials work for you.
• Leave a one page summary of your presentation and, if appropriate, ask for a follow-up response.
• Say “thank you.” If you have a personal meeting, send a follow-up thank you letter. In the letter succinctly reiterate the three key points you discussed in your meeting.

* If you do not know the answer to a question tell them you will research it and get back to them. Be sure you follow thru.

Please feel free to contact Stacey Whittington (meanafpd@gmail.com) or Kristie Hoch (meanasgrchair@gmail.com) if you have any questions about how to contact your legislators.