Contact Lawmakers

How to Find Your Legislators 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.
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.

Where 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. On the member’s page, 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. On this page, 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.  If you call the office, make sure they take down your home address and be sure to include it in any written correspondence.
  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. The death penalty is more expensive than Life in Prison Without the Possibility of Parole.
    1. The average cost of a capital murder case resulting in execution is nearly three times higher than the cost of lifetime incarceration ($2.1 million v. $770K; Dallas Morning News).
    2. Counties with larger budgets have greater capacity to seek the death penalty than those with smaller budgets. Consequently, similar crimes that occur in different counties can lead to vastly different charges and sentences.
    3. The exorbitant cost of death penalty trials has caused some county commissioners to increase taxes and withhold employee raises. Some district attorneys are not seeking death in capital cases because of the cost to their counties.
  1. The death penalty is arbitrarily and unfairly administered by the government.
    1. The decision to seek the death penalty rests solely with the district attorney in each county.
    2. Just seven counties account for nearly two-thirds of all new death sentences in Texas since 2012.
    3. Over the last five years, 60% of all new death sentences in Texas have been imposed on African-American defendants.
    4. The quality of legal counsel provided to indigent defendants often is grossly inadequate.
  1. The death penalty carries the irreversible risk of executing an innocent person.
    1. Thirteen individuals have been exonerated from death row in Texas due to evidence of their wrongful conviction. There have been more than 155 death row exonerations nationwide.
    2. There is a high probability the State of Texas has wrongfully executed at least four individuals: Carlos de Luna (1989); Ruben Cantu (1993); Claude Jones (2000); and Cameron Todd Willingham (2004).
  1. The death penalty does not deter crime.
    1. A 2009 national poll found police chiefs ranked the death penalty last among ways to reduce violent crime. They also considered it the least efficient use of taxpayers’ dollars.
    2. The FBI Uniform Crime Report consistently shows the South, which accounts for more than 80% of executions in the United States, to have the highest murder rate in the nation.
    3. A 2012 report from the National Research Council determined none of the research on deterrence over the last 30 years should be considered useful or informative in assessing whether the death penalty has any impact on homicide rates.
  1. Public support for the death penalty is declining.
    1. New death sentences in Texas fell to a record low in 2015 and 2016, when juries imposed just three death sentences statewide.
      • District attorneys are seeking fewer death sentences and opting instead for Life in Prison Without the Possibility of Parole.
      • Over the last two years, death-qualified juries in Texas have rejected the death penalty nearly as many times as they imposed it.
      • According to the Houston Area Survey conducted by the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University, just 27% of respondents think the death penalty, rather than life imprisonment, is the most appropriate punishment for murder.
    2. New voices are calling for repeal of the death penalty, including former Texas district attorneys, former Texas Court of Criminal Appeals judges, religious leaders, and conservatives.

Complete the Legislator Tracking Sheet

After you have completed a visit or communication with your State Legislator, please complete the tracking sheet to help us monitor our collective legislative outreach efforts.

Complete form.