Contact Lawmakers

How to Find Who Represents Me and Use the Texas Legislature Online (TLO) Website

The Texas Legislature Online (TLO) Website - www.capitol.state.tx.us
The TLO site is extremely helpful and user friendly. Wander around on the site and you will be amazed about the information that is available. You can even create an account through which you can track specific bills or receive notification of committee meetings. Automated updates will be sent to you as bills go through the legislative process. Go to “My TLO” to get started.How can I learn who represents me in the Texas Legislature?

  1. Go to the Texas Legislature Online (TLO).
  2. On the right side of the page where it reads “Who Represents Me?” type in the requested information.

How can I learn more about my Representative and Senator?

  1. Go to TLO.
  2. On the left side of the page under either “Texas House” or “Texas Senate”, select “Members”.
  3. Select your member’s name.
  4. Here you can find their contact information; their committee assignments; the bills authored, sponsored, co-authored, co-sponsored, or amendments authored.

Where can I find a web page for my legislators?

  1. Go to TLO.
  2. On the left side of the page under either “Texas House” or “Texas Senate”, select “Members”.
  3. Select your member’s name.
  4. Select “Visit Home Page on the Texas House of Representatives (or Senate) Website.
  5. Here you can learn about the district, find a district map, see what the member’s committee assignments are, and read a bio of your legislator.
  6. From this page you can also send the member an email message.

How can I find out what bills have been introduced into the Legislature?

  1. Go to TLO.
  2. Select “Bill Search”.
  3. Go to the “Subjects” tab and select “Select subject criteria…”
  4. In the “Search”, type in the subject for which you are searching.
  5. Scroll down in the list of subjects that are provided until you find the specific one for which you are searching.
  6. Double click it and it will appear in the “Selected” box. Click “OK”
  7. This will return you to the initial search page. Select “Search”.
  8. You will be presented with a list of all bills that have been introduced into the legislative session that pertain the subject in which you are interested.

How can I follow a bill through the legislative process?

  1. Go to TLO.
  2. Select “Bill “Lookup” under “Additional Searches”.
  3. Enter the bill number.
  4. From this page you can view the history and current status of the bill. You can also select “Text”, “Actions”, “Companions”, “Amendments”, “Authors”, and “Co-Authors” to learn more about the bill.

How can I find out about upcoming meetings of the committees of the legislature?

  1. Go to TLO.
  2. Under either “Texas House” of “Texas Senate” select “Committee Meetings”.
  3. Select the appropriate heading about committee meetings.

Tips on Communicating With Your Legislator

Advocacy 101- Download PDF

Effective Letters to Your Legislator – Download PDF

  1. Proper preparation is essential – do your research.
    Understand your legislators’ professional background, political philosophy, and previous positions and activities on criminal justice issues.  Their position on these issues will set the tone of your communication. All legislators have their own websites – this is an excellent place to start your research.  TCADP also maintains voting records on death penalty-related legislation – contact the office to learn more!
  2. Know your message.
    State your message clearly at the beginning of your communication (“I am writing/calling to ask you to….).  Use supporting messages to underscore your main message throughout all of your communications.
  3. Make sure your legislator knows that you are a constituent.
    Be certain to communicate your position as a constituent. Your legislators need to understand the reasons for your call/letter/email. Your communication will stand out and demand more attention if they know that you are a constituent.
  4. Be brief.
    When composing your communication, remember to be brief, concise, and neat – get to your point right away. Always remember to check your spelling and grammar before sending it. If you are leaving a phone message, be brief and concise.
  5. Convey the personal impact of this issue.
    In addition to stating facts/figures in your communication, it is tremendously compelling to express the personal impact this issue has had on your life, your job, your family and friends, and your community. By bringing the impact of the issue to life for your legislators, you will give them a powerful reason to support you.
  6. Know the facts.
    Support your messages by referencing facts/figures to show that you are knowledgeable about death penalty issues. Legislators are required to take positions on many different issues. You may find that your legislators lack important details. Your role is to help educate them (and their staff members) by sharing information that demonstrates why this issue is so critical.  If you do not know the answer to a question, tell them you will get back with them with an answer and do it!
  7. Develop an ongoing relationship.
    Use this communication as an opportunity to develop an ongoing relationship with your legislators and their staff members.  Your communication should clearly express an interest in maintaining an ongoing dialogue with legislators and keeping the door open for future opportunities to work together or communicate.
  8. Summarize your thoughts.
    Before ending your communication, summarize your messages and requests (“To conclude, I would appreciate your support for….”).
  9. Say “thank you” and always be professional.  Send a thank-you note and any follow-up information that may have been requested during your meeting or conversation.
  10. Complete the Legislator Tracking SheetAvailable online.

Talking Points

1. COST

a. The average cost of a capital case resulting in execution is nearly three times higher than the cost of lifetime incarceration ($2.1 million vs. $770 thousand; Dallas Morning News).

b. Funds that are expended in pursuit of the death penalty can be better spent on meaningful crime prevention measures (i.e., more police, better equipment, drug treatment programs) and support for murder victims’ families.

2. ARBITRARINESS OF THE SYSTEM

a. The decision to seek the death penalty rests with the District Attorney. Counties with larger budgets have greater capacity to seek the death penalty than those with smaller budgets. As a result, similar crimes that occur in different counties can lead to different charges and sentences.

b. The quality of defense is dependent upon the defendent’s fiscal resources.

c. Only 22 counties in Texas have imposed death sentences in the last 5 years. Five counties account for 54% of new death sentences since 2008.

3. INNOCENCE

a. Twelve individuals have been released from death row in Texas due to evidence of their wrongful conviction (out of 142 nationwide).

b. There is a high probability that Texas has wrongfully executed four individuals:

i. Carlos de Luna (1989); faulty identification procedures and no physical evidence

ii. Ruben Cantu (1993); inaccurate single eyewitness testimony

iii. Claude Jones (2000); incorrect forensic analysis of DNA evidence

iv. Cameron Todd Willingham (2004); questionable “expert witness” testimony

4. LACK OF DETERRENCE

a. The FBI Uniform Crime Report shows repeatedly that the South has the highest murder rate yet the South accounts for over 80% of the executions in the nation.

b. A 2009 national poll found that police chiefs ranked the death penalty last among ways to reduce violence crime and considered it the least efficient use of taxpayers’ dollars.

5. DECLINING SUPPORT

a. New death sentences in Texas have declined more than 75% since 2002.

i. District Attorneys are seeking it less because of the cost to prosecute a death penalty case; instead, they are opting for the sentence of Life in Prison without the Possibility of Parole.

ii. Juries are handing down fewer death sentences after giving full consideration to the question of future dangerousness or mitigating factors.

b. Only nine new sentences were imposed in 2012. This is the fourth consecutive year in which this number has been in single digits.

RECOMMENDATION:  TCADP recommends that HB 1703 receive a hearing by the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee so that elected officials can engage in dialogue on this important issue.

 

Complete the Legislator Tracking Sheet

After you have completed a visit or contact with your State Legislator please complete the tracking sheet to help the TCADP Legislative committee.

Complete form.

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