Legislative Information

Guidelines for Contacting your Legislators

California state senators and assembly members want to hear from their constituents – you – the voters in their districts. At times your association may call on you to do some grassroots lobbying. Often, the contact from a district constituent can sway a legislator’s vote.

When Contacting your Legislators:
  • Be thoughtful
  • Be reasonable
  • Be realistic
  • Be accurate and factual
  • Be understanding
  • Be friendly
  • Give credit where it is due
  • Learn to evaluate issues
  • Support your legislator
  • Don’t demand anything
  • Don’t be vague or deceptive
  • Don’t be an extremist
  • Don’t be a busybody
  • Be cooperative
Tips on Letter Writing:
  • Be brief.
  • Make sure the legislator knows this communications is from a constituent who lives and/or does business in the legislator’s district.
  • Explain how the proposed legislation affects your business, and why you support/oppose it.
  • Don’t attempt to give “expert” opinions. Tell how the legislation would affect your business, based on your experience and knowledge.
  • Refer to bill numbers whenever possible.
  • Ask for the legislator’s support or opposition.
  • Write the letter without copying any association-provided background information verbatim.
  • Request that your legislator take a specific action by telling him/her what you desire. State the facts as you see them. Avoid emotional arguments. If you use dollar figures, be realistic.
  • Ask the legislator what his/her position is.
  • Keep all communications friendly and respectful. Be sure to thank your legislator for considering your views.
  • Write on your personal or business letterhead if possible, and sign your name over your typed signature at the end of your message.
  • Be sure your exact return address is on the letter – not just the envelope. Envelopes sometimes get thrown away before the letter is answered.
  • Be reasonable. Don’t ask for the impossible. Don’t threaten. Don’t say, “I’ll never vote for you unless you do such and such.” That will not help your cause; it may even harm it.
  • Be constructive. If a bill deals with a problem you admit exists, but you believe the bill is the wrong approach, tell what the right approach is.
  • Send your association a copy of your letter and a copy of the response you receive from your legislator.
  • Address all letters in the following manner, unless you are on a first name basis.
  • Use the proper form of address. See examples below.

The Honorable John Doe
California State Senate
Sacramento, CA 94248-0001
Dear Senator Doe:

The Honorable Jane Doe
California State Assembly
Sacramento, Ca 94249-0001
Dear Assembly Member Doe:

Telephone Procedures:
  • When the Legislature is in session, call the Capitol office; during recess and on Fridays, call the district office.
  • Ask to speak directly to the legislator. If he/she is not available, ask to speak to the administrative assistant or legislative aide.
  • When the legislator or his/her assistant is on the line, identify yourself and mention the name of your company and the fact that you are from the legislator’s district.
  • State the reason for the call. Use bill numbers whenever possible.
  • Explain how the proposed legislation affects your business and why you support or oppose it.
  • Discuss only one issue per telephone call.
  • Ask the legislator’s position – if the legislator’s position is the same as yours, express agreement and thanks – if your position differs from the legislator’s, politely express disappointment and offer some factual information supporting your views.
  • Don’t attempt to give “expert” opinions. Tell how legislation would affect your business, based on your experience and knowledge.
  • Request that your legislator take a specific action by telling him/her what you desire. State the facts as you see them. Avoid emotional arguments. If you use dollar figures, be realistic.
  • Keep all communication friendly and respectful.
  • Thank the legislator or aide for his/her time and for considering your views.

The Legislative Process

Senate: 40 members
Assembly: 80 members
Regular Session: Convenes on the first Monday in December of each even numbered year and continues until November 30 of the next even-numbered year.
Special Session: May be called by the Governor and is limited to a specific subject. Length is not limited and may be held concurrently with the regular session.
Effective Date of Laws: January 1 of the year after enactment.

Procedure:
  • Introduction: The bill is introduced by a member of the Senate of Assembly, read for the first time, and then assigned to a committee by either the Senate Rules Committee or the Assembly Speaker.
  • Committee: Hearing(s) are held in committee and testimony is taken from proponents and opponents. Generally, the committees will then amend, pass or fail to pass the bill.
  • Second Reading: Bills that are passed by committee are read a second time and sent to the full floor for debate.
  • Floor Debate (in house of origin): The bill is read a third time, debated and voted on. Most bills need a majority to pass (21 for the Senate, 41 for the Assembly). Bills with urgency clauses, appropriation measures and some tax-related bills need a two-third majority (27 for the Senate, 54 for the Assembly). If the bill is passed, it is sent to the second house.
  • Second House: Procedures for a bill to pass the second house are similar to consideration and passage in the house of origin.
  • Amendments: If the second house passes a bill with amendments, then the bill must be passed a second time by the house of origin for concurrence. If the amendments are rejected, a conference committee is formed to iron out the differences between the two houses.
  • Governor: The Governor must act on (sign or veto) any bill that passes the Legislature within 12 days during the legislative session. However, the Governor has 30 days in which to act at the end of the biennium. Bills not acted on by the Governor automatically become law. A two-thirds vote of the Legislature is required to override a Governor’s veto.

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SVUSD Legislative Platform

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