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RUTH BOYER SCOTT
How do I go about.
Have you put off "writing Washington" because you don't have
the "know-how"? Or because you think one letter won't do
any good? Read these suggestions, refer to the list on the
following pages, and then send your thoughts to Washington!
Your congressmen are waiting to hear from you — the people!
your time, writing Congress
about legislation," Bill
said to his neighbor.
"An individual hasn't
a chance. It takes a
big organization to
put over a letter cam-
'£,n- 1 listened for the reply.
'ilybe so, maybe not," John
A|)|„ V,j-'red. "To make sure, I'm going to
i. "ie huts ;ts 1 see them in a letter
,, / happens to letters like fohn's?
FWed to follow the mail into the
eam for myself how effective
Bre from individual men and
best way to gauge this
KVSu5n to the persons who receive
\ ''ranees P. Bolton, Republican
'C ,su'<»nan from Ohio since 1940,
ELa.bout Mrs. Anna V. Coleman,
K e,and's battling widow," who
■ w"ite suggesting legislation to
I ,'[X'S 'evied on pensions of wid-
.■^i;.. Policemen and firemen.
\ p 'Us receive such a pittance,"
■taU0'eman wrote, "that surely they
K~» "ut be required to pay taxes
'"''<' in Family Circle for lanuarv,
pM), "K|er the title. "Your Congressman
V Piece ,,1 V,
Mind." Used by per-
"I was glad to introduce a bill at
her request," says Mrs. Bolton. "Its
provisions were incorporated in the
Internal Revenue Code of 1954 — exempting up to .$1,200 of pensions and
annuities from income taxes of all
Senator John J. Sparkman, of Alabama. Democratic candidate for Vice
President in 1952, tells of veterans in
his state who wrote that they'd tried
to buy GI housing in rural areas, but
couldn't get mortgage lenders.
"Their letters," he- says, "helped to
bring about tbe direct loan on GI
houses, which I sponsored and which
litis helped thousands to get homes
who couldn't have otherwise." By this
legislation certain areas of the country
tire designated as "direct-loan areas
for GI housing.
HOW TO GET ACTION
What kind of letters bring about
such immediate action':' The heart of
what I learned is that your letters
will get attention if they are legible,
specific, clear, and brief, stating what
you're lor or against, and why.
While your idea won't go automatically into tl law and may never inspire
a separate law, many such ideas are
incorporated into the big general laws,
like housing, taxation, and social security.
A typewritten letter is preferable,
but 'many handwritten letters com-
'*i'M News, May, 1950
mand respect because of their constructive ideas. But be sure that the
writing is easily read, and take extra
pains to be brief. Its the 6- to 10-page
illegibly handwritten letter that is t
waste of effort.
Mimeographed letters are also discouraging. As one congressman put it,
"We don't know whether John Smith
intended to send the letter or merely
signed it as a favor to bis organization's legislative chairman, who passed
out 200 copies at a meeting."
KEEP LETTERS BRIEF
Keep in mind tbe tremendous demand on a congressman's time. If be
reaches his office at 9 a.m. (some
come earlier, some later), he has only
tin hour till 10 a.m. committee meet;
ings to read mail, see visitors, review
pending legislation, and sign letters.
So five or six rambling pages may destroy the value of your letter. Your
representative may read his short letters and put yours aside for more time
that may never come.
Being brief w ill also help you to be
Specific. II ti person writes, "I wish
you'd do something about my bousing," the recipient doesn't know
whether the- writer is concerned with
rental housing, bouse buying, or house
Whom do you write? Because (he
liaison between Senate and House is
far from perfect, you're wise to write
both (o your own representative and