Thanks to the Maine People’s Resource Center, here are some tips for the citizen lobbyist:

Professional lobbyists are often the primary source of information that state legislators have on important issues. The best way to level the playing field and help you communicate effectively with your legislator is by becoming a citizen lobbyist. This includes face-to-face contact, writing to your legislator, writing letters to the editor, and testifying at public hearings.


The most effective means of communicating with your legislator is through a face-to-face conversation. Here are some basic rules to follow when meeting your legislator in person:

  • Make an Appointment: If you’d like to meet your legislator in your community, call them directly. If you’re traveling to Augusta, see my Visit the Legislature page to schedule a visit.
  • Be Prompt and Patient: It is common that your legislator may be running late or that your meeting may be interrupted, especially at the Capitol.
  • Be Prepared: Bring supporting materials and information. Have a few copies available.
  • Be Brief: Don’t expect more than 5-10 minutes with your legislator at the Capitol. If you arrange a meeting in your district, 30-45 minutes is appropriate.
  • Be Political: Demonstrate the connection between your request and the interests of the legislator’s district. Describe how you/your group can be of assistance to your legislator. Ask for a commitment.
  • Be Responsive: Be prepared to answer questions or provide additional information on your stance. If you don’t know the answer, tell your legislator you will get the information they’ve requested.
  • Be Respectful
  • Be Thankful
  • Follow Up: Write a letter thanking your legislator for the meeting, providing any information requested, and checking in about any unfinished business.


Writing letters allows the elected official to consider your points away from the distractions of the state house or a formal meeting. Here are some tips for writing effective letters:

Writing Your Legislator

  • Identify Yourself: First, let your legislator know that you are a concerned constituent, whether you are writing in a personal or professional capacity, and whether you are speaking for others. Include your name and contact info.
  • Be Specific: Your purpose should be stated in the first paragraph. If the letter pertains to a specific piece of legislation, identify it accordingly, e.g., LD, House Bill, or Senate Bill.
  • Be Focused: Address only one issue in each letter; if possible, keep it to one page. Use facts and examples to support your position.
  • Be Personal
  • Be Clear: State how you want the lawmaker to vote on a specific bill. If you want a response, request one.

Writing Letters to the Editor
A letter to the editor (LTE) is an excellent forum for publicizing a lawmaker’s position or actions in support or opposition of an important issue. It also allows you to directly encourage other members of your community to take action on an issue. Many of tips listed above apply to LTEs, but here are some other points to consider:

  • Address Your Letter Properly: Include your name, address, daytime phone number, and e-mail address. Many papers will not publish a letter without confirmation of the author.
  • Submit Your Letter in Electronic Form: The best way is to insert it into the body of the e-mail message.
  • Reference a Previous Article
  • Make Your Point Immediately
  • Stick to the Word Limit and be Brief
  • Time Your Letter Appropriately
  • Avoid Threats or Personal Attacks
  • Follow up With the Editor

Public hearings are held on most legislative issues. Encouraging other people who share your views on the issue in question to attend and testify demonstrates broad support for your position. Statements and written material submitted during a public hearing become part of the public record which must be considered by the decision-making body. Hearings also allow you to hear and study the arguments of those who disagree with you on a specific topic.

Public hearings can be intense and sometimes intimidating, but they are a vital part of the legislative process. The legislators who convene public hearings are concerned citizens like you. They need the information you can provide. Here are some tips to help make your participation in hearings as effective as possible:

  • Use Your Time Efficiently: There is often a time limit for speakers. Talk with others who share your view and divide the topics that need to be addressed among several speakers so all of your issues are discussed.
  • Submit Supporting Materials: This can include additional personal comments, charts, maps, etc. You can also make these materials available to the media.
  • Take Notes
  • Be Polite