Contacting Legislators

There are currently four ways you can easily contact a legislator: telephone, fax, email and postal mail. Click on one of the links below to find out who your legislators are and how to contact them.

Phone – For anyone who can call Nashville locally, the easiest number is the direct office line. This will go straight to the legislator’s office, usually to a secretary. If you cannot call Nashville locally, the state has an 800 number. Dialing (800) 449-8366 will connect you to an automated switching computer where you can enter the legislator’s 5 digit extension [1 + the last four digits of their number]. If you don’t know the legislator’s extension, you can select the “directory by last name” and enter the legislator’s last name and be given the 5 digit extension.

E-Mail – You can find the e-mail addresses for your legislators by clicking on the links above.

Postal mail – As always, you can write the legislators at their Nashville offices. We make this really easy for you, through our Legislative Issues Letter Generator tool.

Persuading Legislators

Regardless of the method you choose to contact a legislator, it is important you keep some basic thoughts in mind during your communication.

Civility – First and foremost – be polite. Our elected officials are there to respond to our needs and wishes, but they will be more inclined to do so if our requests are civil and polite.

Salutation – Unless the legislator is a personal friend, address them by the title of their office. For most legislators, this will be either “Rep. Lastname” or “Sen. Lastname”. The two exceptions to this are the Lt. Governor and the Speaker of the House. They should be referred to as “Lt. Gov. Lastname” and “Speaker Lastname” respectively.

Brevity – Letters to elected officials are like resumes. They each receive so many it is important to quickly make your point and leave. As a rule, don’t go past one page. Explain why you are writing, ask for the legislator’s support and thank them for their help. Always make specific reference to the bill, (by house or senate bill numbers, about which you are writing. It is appropriate to ask for a written response regarding their position(s).

Telephone contact – As with letters, telephone calls should be brief – it is important to quickly make your point. Although it is appropriate to ask to speak to your legislator, generally you will only be able to talk with their secretary or an assistant. Give them the bill numbers that you are interested in, ask the status and whether they are supporting the bill(s). If they are not supporting a bill on which you are wanting their support, it is okay to ask for an explanation of their position. It is also appropriate to follow your telephone contacts with brief written correspondence.

Civility – Finally – be polite. We enjoy a good relationship with many legislators, and others disagree with our positions, but we will never win our goals without a dedicated, polite effort. Contact them often, but remain polite.

Be Informed

One of the most important tools that you need when you contact your legislator or your legislator’s office is accurate information. You should know the bill numbers for the bills that you want to talk about. You need to know what the effect of the bill will be. You need to know whether your legislator is a sponsor or co-sponsor of the bill and, if they are not a sponsor, who the sponsor is. You need to know the status of the legislation, e.g., which committee is currently hearing the bill. You need to know which legislators or lobbyists are opposed to the bill and why. Your ability to intelligently communicate and discuss your concerns and interests with your legislator is important.