Connect with your legislators
If you don’t already know who represents you at the state level, you can go to https://openstates.org/ and type your address into the search box. There you’ll find all of the state and federal legislators representing you and your family. Once you know the names of your state legislators, go to either the KS Legislature House roster (http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2021_22/chamber/house/roster/) or the Senate roster (http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2021_22/chamber/senate/roster/) and click on their name to find their contact information, which committees they are assigned to, and their voting record.
Be sure to put their contact information into your cell phone–really put their email and phone numbers in your phone! That way you’ll be ready when it’s time to advocate for a particular bill when it comes up for a vote. In addition, find their website and sign up for their newsletter so you can follow how they are framing their actions while representing YOU! You can do the same for the elected officials who represent you at the federal level.
During the legislative session, both the Senate and the House publish a daily calendar which outlines the order of business for the day, including showing the status of all bills. Anything “above the line” (literally a black line on the calendar agenda) will be voted on in session that day. Otherwise, the bills are likely to be making their way through various committees. The calendar also lists a weekly schedule of all committee proceedings. See the calendars.
If you have a specific bill number, you can track how legislators voted on that bill by going to https://legiscan.com/KS/ and doing a search. For example, you can search to see which legislators voted for HCR5003 (House Concurrent Resolution to amend the “bill of rights of the constitution of the state of Kansas to reserve to the people the right to regulate abortion through their elected state representatives and senators.” You’ll see the Roll Call votes listed for “Final Emergency Action” for both the Senate (Yea 28; Nay 11) and the House (Yea 86; Nay 36). If you click on the hyperlinks for the Yeas and Nays, you’ll see the names of the legislators who voted for and against the bill. Only Final Action votes are recorded. Any bill that goes into Final Emergency Action does so because of a time constraint.
Communicating with your legislators
The people who represent you need to hear from you, both when you agree with them and when you don’t. Sometimes we forget that the only people who speak up are those who are unhappy, so be especially sure to let your legislator know when you support how they are voting.
Whenever you communicate with your legislator, be sure to address them properly and to be respectful. Address them using their title (Senator or Representative), be courteous and straightforward about why you are reaching out. If your communication is about a specific bill, be sure to include the bill number. Clearly state your position on the legislation and explain in your own words why you want them to support or oppose the bill. Keep it short.
After you have crafted a concise message, make sure your legislator’s email address is entered correctly. It is best practice to also “CC” others to ensure your message is documented. For example, if you are emailing your State Senator, CC your State Representative – or vice versa. In addition, it’s often a good idea to CC leadership (i.e., Speaker of the House, House Majority Leader, Senate President, Senate Majority Leader, etc), just to hold everyone accountable. Leadership changes every two years, so be sure to look up who these people are before the session begins at http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2021_22/chamber/house/leadership/.