The Opioid Crisis: Letter to an Elected Official
In order to function effectively, our government depends on citizens who are not just personally responsible, but also active participants in democratic life. One strategy participatory citizens use to accomplish change is to write email messages to their elected representatives. In fact, Congressional staffers rank constituent emails ahead of visits from lobbyists when asked what strategies have the most influence on legislators.
Elected official staffers carefully read, record, and respond to each and every letter received by their offices. For this assignment, you’ll have the opportunity to voice your opinion on immigration reform to Senator Eklund, Representative Joyce, or Senator Portman. As local, state, and federal officials introduce measures to address the opioid crisis, this seems like an opportune time to let your opinion be heard.
Step One - Select an Elected Official to Write
Review the legislation supported by your elected representatives below and the corresponding critique. Then select one that you feel strongly about.
Substitute Senate Bill 3: A bill to reform criminal sentencing laws to provide better paths to treatment for Ohioans suffering from drug addiction while ensuring drug traffickers face strict felony charges.
Disaster Looms if Drug Possession Penalties are Reduced by Maureen O'Conner criticizes an 2018 ballot initiative that resembles Senate Bill 3 suggesting that such a law would hinder the ability of courts to effectively deal with drug users.
COPE Act of 2019: A bill to combat the opioid crisis by increasing the authorized resources available to the Department of Justice's comprehensive opioid abuse reduction activities.
"Congress Needs an Opioid Intervention" by J.J. Rich argues that Congress is calling for a slate of governmental interventions that have been tried, tested, and shown to cause more harm.
STOP Act of 2018: A bill to stop dangerous synthetic drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil from being shipped through our borders to drug traffickers here in the United States.
"The STOP Act Won't Stop Drug Use or Treat Addictionl" by Lipi Roy argues that decades worth of data shows that supply reduction fails to reduce drug use.
Step Two - Drafting a Letter to an Elected Official
1. After you review the legislation, draft a letter to the appropriate elected official:
- If you selected Substitute Senate Bill 3, then write to Senator Eklund.
- If you selected the COPE Act of 2019, then write to Representative Joyce.
- If you selected the STOP Act of 2018, then write to Senator Portman.
2. Use the proper salutation:
- Sen. John Eklund should be addressed as "Senator Eklund"
- Rep. David Joyce should be addressed as ""Representative Joyce"
- Sen. Rob Portman should be addressed as "Senator Portman"
3. Write a compelling introduction that:
- includes the subject, title, and bill number of the legislation that you are addressing
- strongly and clearly states your opinion and what you want the elected official to do
4. A thoughtful body that
- acknowledges and offers rebuttal opposing view(s)
- contains thorough but succinct information about possible courses of action
- contains two or more highly relevant, accurate, and convincing reasons that support a course of action and appeal to the reader
5. A strong concluding statement that
- reiterates your position
- clearly states what solution or course of action you want the elected official to work for
6. Use an appropriate complementary closing:
- Examples include: "Sincerely" or "Respectfully" followed by your full name on the next line.
7. Share a draft of your letter with Mr. Soeder at firstname.lastname@example.org before you leave class today. NO CREDIT WILL BE GIVEN FOR LATE DRAFTS. Mr. Soeder will provide individualized feedback so that you can revise and submit your letter during our next face-to-face session.