Learn this great advocacy tool!
We all want to impact the issues we care about most. But did you know it could be as easy as cobbling together 200 words? Letters to the editor are a terrific tool for community advocacy because they:
- Get the attention of our decision makers
- Help sway public opinion
- Highlight issues that need more public attention
The best part is that they can be written by ordinary community members like you and me. No experience necessary! But we do suggest following a few key tips to make your letter as publishable and effective as it can be.
That’s why we held a workshop on letters to the editor last week!
Thanks to everyone who attended in person and online. Didn’t get to participate? Don’t worry, you can still catch the slides from our workshop here. Then pick an issue that matters to you to write about. We’ve given you plenty of ideas below. Just scroll down to our Weekly Actions!
Action Utah in the news!
We are honored to have gotten front page coverage in the Salt Lake Tribune today in Robert Gehrke’s article, “After Trump’s shocking victory a year ago, two women have charted a path for change”. Check it out!
Preparing for the State Legislative Session
Our focus at Action Utah this fall and winter is on helping ordinary people like you and me impact the upcoming State Legislative Session (January-March, 2018). We’re starting now by bringing you tools (like Letters to the Editor) and education on the issues and community lobbying so you will be ready to make a difference in January. Want to impact state policy? Here are three ways to get ready:
- Join us for the final Interim Session of the year this Wednesday, Nov 15th, and learn about our state legislature and how to impact it. (Details below)
- Save the Date: Action Utah’s Annual State Legislative Preview will be held on Wednesday, January 24th, 7:00-8:30p at the Marmalade Branch Library in SLC. Legislators and advocates will present a list of great bills we are tracking at Action Utah in order to bring you community lobbying opportunities on the issues you care about so you can help get them passed.
- Host a “Living Room Conversation”. Action Utah leaders teach groups of 15 or more people how to impact the issues that matter to you during the State Legislative Session — whether you are a business, nonprofit, neighborhood action group, book club, bible study group, senior group or just a bunch of friends and family. Invite us to come talk to your group and learn how you can make a difference in state policy!
Women in Politics Panel – TODAY, 6:00-9:00p at the Impact Hub in SLC. A great panel of women from both sides of the aisle will discuss the state of women’s involvement in politics, barriers to entry and the need for more women to join the political scene.
Real Women Run Fall Social– Tues, November 14th, 5:30-7:30p, at Log Haven in Millcreek. RWR’s fun annual event features speakers Sen. Diedre Henderson and Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera in a discussion facilitated by KRCL RadioActive’s Lara Jones.
Final Interim Session Tour of the Capitol – Wed, November 15th, 7:45-8:15am. Action Utah leaders will walk small groups of interested community members on a tour of the Capitol Campus and introduction to our state legislature. We highly recommend that you stay to sit in on Interim Committee meetings following the tour. Meet in the cafeteria on the ground floor of the Senate Building (on the east side of campus, next to the parking lot). NOTE: This is the last Interim Session of the year! The next time our legislators meet will be for the State Legislative Session in January.
Interim Session – Wed, November 15th, 8:30a-4:30p at the State Capitol. Final Interim Committee Meetings of the year will be held in morning and afternoon sessions and are open to the public. Scroll down for a complete schedule and meeting agendas below. We invite you to come along with Action Utah leaders and members to sit in on a meeting of your choice and witness our legislative branch in action! Simply RSVP to our Interim Session Tour or email us if you’d like to join us later in the day.
ACLU Annual Meeting – Thursday, November 16th at the Episcopal Diocese of Utah, SLC. Action Utah’s co-founder and Executive Director, Andrea Himoff, will be speaking on a panel at this event about the landscape of activism in Utah since the 2016 election.
The State Legislative Session begins January 22, 2018. And with the holidays just around the corner, January will be here before you know it. That’s why we’re preparing community members NOW to make an impact on state policy. This week, we’re focusing on two ways YOU (yes, you) can make a difference on an issue that matters to you most.
1. WRITE A LETTER TO THE EDITOR (LTE) ON ONE OF THESE IMPORTANT TOPICS. One of the best ways to get attention for the issues that matter to you is to write about them in the local paper. Any community member can write a letter to the editor. Check out our TIPS on How to Write an Effective Letter to the Editor. Then pick an issue and start writing!
In January over 1200 bills will be presented, debated and voted on by the State Legislature. Start getting attention for good bills now by writing a letter to the editor about them. Here is a good bill you can start with TODAY:
- Healthcare bill: “Family Planning Service Amendments” – Makes use of a Medicaid waiver to supply acting birth control for low-income women at a low cost to the state and help women and families climb out of poverty by preventing unintended pregnancies, abortions and miscarriages and significantly reducing healthcare costs to taxpayers.
- Click here for talking points and information for your LTE.
- Want to advocate for this bill? Send a quick email to the members of the Health and Human Services Interim Committee, who will be discussing this draft legislation at Interim Session on Wednesday morning. More information here.
Action Utah will continue to bring great bills for you to support with your letters and advocacy as the Legislative Session draws near. Don’t want to write about a bill? Write about an issue that matters to you. Here are some ideas:
- Environmental Stewardship: Support climate change policy at the state level. Most Utahns agree that climate change is real and is exacerbated by human activity. Let’s get our legislature talking about this and taking positive action to mitigate its impacts. Click here for talking points and information about this issue.
- Immigration: Private prisons for immigrant detentions in Utah? A private prison is being proposed within 180 miles of Salt Lake City to detain immigrants, yet private prisons are expensive to tax payers and are notorious for documented abuses. Let’s find a less expensive and less harmful strategy. Click here for background info and talking points.
- 2018 Elections: Support ballot initiatives. Do you care about one of the five ballot initiatives being offered up to voters for the 2018 election? Volunteer to collect signatures or write a letter to the editor about why you support the initiative. Here are some links to get you started:
Better Boundaries – Instating an independent redistricting commission to decide on district lines in 2020 and beyond.
County My Vote – Eliminating the Caucus/Convention elections system to give more power to the voters.
Our Schools Now – Increasing personal income tax by a small percentage to fund schools by an additional $750 million per year.
Medical Marijuana – Permitting medical use of marijuana to treat a limited number of medical conditions.
Utah Decides Healthcare – Expanding Medicaid and CHIP for tens of thousands of Utahns who currently fall in the health insurance gap
No matter what you choose to write your LTE about, Action Utah is here to help you!
- Send us your letter to review and edit – We have volunteers ready and waiting to help you write a letter that is as effective and publishable as possible. Email us your draft if you want help.
- Let us know if you get published – we can spread the news about your published LTE and get it more attention if you let us know you got published and firstname.lastname@example.org! the link at
2. JOIN US FOR THE LAST INTERIM SESSION OF THE YEAR. Every month our state legislators get together to learn about and debate issues facing Utah. November is the Interim Session before our annual State Legislative Session begins in January. Join Action Utah leaders and members to for a brief tour and training on how our legislative branch works and how to impact it at the Capitol. We invite you to stay and sit in on a public meeting about issues that matter to you. Witnessing our legislature in action is the best way to learn how to be an effective community advocate. Let Action Utah show you how!
- Sign up to join us on Wed. November 15th for our Final Interim Session Tour of the State Capitol. Click here to RSVP or email us.
- Can’t be there in person? Check out the State Legislative Calendar to see what committees are meeting when. Click on that committee to see their agenda for the day (final meeting agendas post at least 24 hours in advance). If a particular topic interests you, listen to the audio recording of that part of the meeting, available in the meeting “Summary”, which gets posted shortly after the meeting adjourns. Listening in will give you a great view not only into the issues, and also into how our legislators learn about the issues, what words they use and what messages are impactful to them.
INTERIM SCHEDULE (from the Legislative Website Calendar)
8:30a-11:15a – Interim Committee Meetings (open to the public)
Health & Human Services Committee – 30 House Building (map) – Agenda. NOTE: This meeting starts at 8:00a. One great bill on the agenda for Wed is Rep. Ward’s “Family Planning Service Amendments”, as well as discussion of medical cannabis and opioid misuse.
Business and Labor Interim Committee – 210 Senate Building (map) – Agenda. Includes discussion of Rep. Dunnigan’s Fireworks Restrictions Amendments (a possible clean air bill), Sen. Escamilla’s look at gender-based wage discrimination and Rep. Dunnigan’s Utah Antidiscrimination Act Amendments.
Education Interim Committee – 445 State Capitol (map) – Agenda. Discussion will cover draft legislation by Sen. Millner and Rep. Val Peterson about Recodification of the Public Education Code and Educator Preparation and Licensure and a look at state education goals and metrics.
Government Operations Interim Committee – 450 State Capitol (map) – Agenda. Includes a discussion of the National Popular Vote, draft legislation of Campaign Finance Amendments, Voter Privacy and a bill that would create Instant Runoff Voting in municipal elections.
Political Subdivisions Interim Committee – 20 House Building (map) – Agenda. Committee discussion will include draft legislation impacting Local Government Boards and Commissions Amendments (a possible follow up to last year’s HB 11), misdemeanor classification and indigent defense, the Mental Health Crisis Line and Free Expression Regulation Amendments.
Public Utilities, Energy and Technology Interim Committee – 25 House Building (map) – Agenda. Discussion to include the state’s long term energy policy plan (via the Governor’s Office of Energy Development) and a committee draft bill on Combined Heat and Power.
1:15-4:30p – Interim Committee Meetings (open to the public)
Economic Development and Workforce Services Interim Committee – 450 State Capitol (map) – Agenda. Discussion topics include affordable housing and Community Development Block Grants, a report on the Early Childhood Services Study and a review of funding for homeless initiatives.
Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Interim Committee – 25 House Building (map) – Agenda. Includes reports on the Sex-Offender Treatment Program, the Impact of Corrections Education Programs on Recidivism and also JRI.
Revenue and Taxation Interim Committee – 445 State Capitol (map) – Agenda. Including a report by the Utah Tax Review Commission, discussion about a draft bill proposing multiple state tax reforms (including an increased fee for electric vehicle registration) and review of proposed income tax credits.
Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Interim Committee – 30 House Building (map) – Agenda. Discussion includes presentation of draft legislation on Conservation Commission Amendments and Underground Storage Tank Amendments and a report from the Commission for Stewardship of Public Land.
Just announced: Senate Floor Session at 4:00p
Actions speak louder than words
It has been a year since Trump was elected President. Some Utahns approve and others disapprove of the President and his policies. The same is true about our congressional and state representatives and their policies. No matter what issues matter to you or what your beliefs are about them, DOING something to impact them is much better than complaining about them. There are positive solutions to the issues that most Utahns can agree on. YOU can take action — even small, easy actions like the ones we suggest every week — to make a difference on the issues that matter to you most. After all, every action counts.
Andrea & Katie
Co-Founders, Action Utah