Friday, January 15, 2010

How to Contact Your Elected Officials in Mississippi


After the most recent assault on science education by Mississippi Rep. Gary Chism, it occurred to me that it might be useful to have a brief, step-by-step guide for how to respond to this sort of thing in the future. I am well aware that many of you already know how to do this, but my goal with this post is merely to make it as easy as possible by providing an outline for Mississippi's reality-based community to use.

Here's the scenario: you learn about a bill introduced in our state legislature that represents yet another blow to science education, separation of church and state, etc. The bill must be killed in committee or defeated if brought to a vote. Here is what you can do about it:

  1. Determine whether it is a house bill (HB) or a senate bill (SB) and find the bill's number (e.g., HB 25). This is easy to find because it will usually be included in the story through which you first learned of the bill.

  2. Visit the state legislature's webpage. Under "bill status," click "select a measure" and enter the source and number of the bill into the form. Not only will this page provide a link to the text of the bill, but you'll see three critical pieces of information to note: actions taken on the bill so far, the committee which will be reviewing the bill, and the bill's author.

  3. Now return to the main page and go under either House or Senate depending on where the bill originated and click on Click on "house committees" or "senate committees." This will show you who sits on the committee that will be handling the bill in question (remember you noted this in Step 2).

  4. Now that you have the names of the relevant committee members, you know who to contact. At a minimum, I tend to contact the Chair and any members representing my legislative district. If you aren't sure who represents your district, you can find that information here.

  5. Now that you know who to contact, you need to find out how to contact them. Return to the main page. Under "house" or "senate," depending on which is appropriate, you'll find a list of names to click on. Each link will provide all the contact information you'll need. Email addresses are generally included, so use them.

  6. Let us know who you contacted, what you said, and whether you receive a response. This will help us coordinate our efforts.

Simple and highly effective. You better believe that these individuals hear from the Christian extremists in our state on a regular basis, so it is important that they hear from those of us who are oriented to reality too.

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