Be heard

How can I find out who represents me?

Every American is represented by many elected officials at the national, state, and local levels.  While this is not a complete list of elected officials, the following represent the main individuals who set law and policy at the various levels of government in the United States and Texas.

National level: President, US Senators, Congressional Representative
State Level: Governor, Lieutenant Governor, State Senator, State Representative
County Level: County Judge, County Commissioner
City Level (if living in incorporated area): Mayor, councilmember(s)
School district level: School board president, school board trustee

Follow this link to find out who represents you in Congress and in the Texas Legislature.

For more information on your local elected officials, go to the website of your city, county, or school district or search on Ballotpedia.

What are effective ways to share my views with policymakers?

Policymakers are most likely to listen to their own constituents, so it can help to focus on your own elected officials.

Call: The most effective way to share your views with elected officials is often to pick up the phone and call. Be polite to the staffer answering the phone, and have a clear and concise message ready. If you get nervous on phone calls or are worried about forgetting key points, jot down a few notes ahead of time. You may have the best luck getting a human on the phone if you call the local or district office.

Visit: If it’s not too far away, dropping into the office, or showing up at a town hall meeting can be a good way to meet the elected official or a staffer face to face.

Write: Emails or letters may be less likely to produce personalized responses, but they can be an effective way to make yourself heard, especially if you identify yourself as a constituent of that official.

Click: Most elected officials keep profiles on social media sites, like Twitter or Facebook. Following and commenting on posts can be useful.  
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Apps:

  • Call to Action automatically pulls up your congressional representative’s district phone number
  • Resistbot lets you quickly send a fax to your congressional representative via text message
  • The free TexLege app has phone and office location for Texas lawmakers, as well as information on proposed bills and meetings and detailed maps of the Texas Capitol.

This link, written by a congressional staffer, shares some of the most effective ways to make your voice heard by elected officials.

What are some other good ways to shape the discussion around public policy?

–Get involved in a group advocating for a cause you believe in. They often have infrastructure set up to make it easier to mobilize.

–Reach out to your local newspaper and write a letter to the editor or an editorial.

–Sharing posts on social media is quick and easy, but stop and take a moment to verify that the information you’re sharing is accurate. Here are some great tips.

How can I stay informed and find out what type of laws are being considered in Texas?

The Texas Legislature meets from January to May in odd-numbered years, and may also convene for special called sessions.

The easiest way to stay informed about proposed legislation is to read the local news. The Texas Tribune is a free online news source with extensive coverage of Texas policy and politics. Local newspapers also are a great way to learn about topics impacting your area. If you are interested in a specific topic, try subscribing to the newsfeed of non-profits or policy groups who work on that issue.

If you want to do your own research, the Texas Legislature Online website contains a wealth of information on current and historical legislation. You can search for bills by number or by keywords, watch live or archived hearing broadcasts, get information about elected officials, and learn about the legislative process.

If you want to follow specific topics or bills, you can create an account on the MyTLO page and receive alerts for meetings, topics, or bills.

For detailed instructions on using the TLO website, click here

For information related to the state budget, visit the website of the Legislative Budget Board.

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