A personal letter is the most common way of contacting a legislator. Just one letter with either a new perspective or a clear, persuasive argument can often influence a legislator’s approach to an issue. A legislator may pay more attention to a legislative matter on which he or she has received a large amount of mail. You are welcome to use/download the sample letter template below as a guide.
We are currently sending letters to Governor Brown, as he will have until September 31st to sign this bill into law. The Governor wants to hear from YOU. Please email your signed letter to to Daniel.Seeman@Gov.Ca.Gov and email@example.com ASAP.
SB 1437 SUPPORT LETTER TEMPLATE
September 1, 2018
The Honorable Edmund G. Brown
Governor of the State of California
State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 445-2841
Fax: (916) 558-3160
Attn: Daniel Seeman
RE: SUPPORT for Senate Bill 1437 (Skinner)
Dear Governor Brown:
I am a resident of [Name of Town, CA] and I OR I write to you on behalf of [organization], write in support of SB 1437 (Skinner) . SB1437 is a bi-partisan bill that brings needed reform to accomplice liability in California’s homicide statutes and also provides an opportunity for resentencing for those who are currently serving a disproportionately long sentence for a homicide that person did not commit.
The California Supreme Court has repeatedly condemned the felony murder rule, stating that the rule “anachronistically resurrects from a bygone age a ‘barbaric concept’” that “erodes the relation between criminal liability and moral culpability.” (See People v. Washington (1965) 62 Cal. 2d 777, 781; People v. Phillips (1966) 64 Cal. 2d 574, 582, 583, fn. 6; People v. Dillon (1983) 34 Cal. 3d 441, 463.) When the Michigan Supreme Court abolished its felony murder rule 38 years ago, it quoted from this California Supreme Court case law and condemned the felony murder rule as “a historic survivor for which there is no logical or practical basis for existence in modern law.” (People v. Aaron (Mich.) 1980 409 Mich. 672.) When the Supreme Judicial Court in Massachusetts limited the application of its felony murder rule in September 2017, it also cited this California case law. (Commonwealth v. Brown (2017) 81 N.E. 3d 1173.) However, although other states have acted, California has not yet heeded its own high court’s call for reform.
SB 1437 does not abolish the felony murder rule. Rather, it limits a first-degree murder sentence to those who 1) actually killed; 2) aided and abetted the killing with the intent to cause death; or 3) acted as a major participant and with reckless disregard to human life during the course of the felony. SB 1437 also affirms that malice is required for a murder conviction, with the exception of the actual killer in a felony murder, who will still be liable even if the death was accidental or unintentional. A person’s culpability for murder must be premised upon that person’s own actions and subjective intent. It is important to hold those who commit serious crimes accountable. It is also important to have a just legal system in which the punishment imposed for crimes is proportional to an individual’s own culpability. SB 1437 accomplishes both of these goals.
For the reasons stated above, I OR we (if behalf of an organization) respectfully request you sign SB 1437 (Skinner) when it crosses your desk.
Thank you for your consideration.
cc: Senator Nancy Skinner
Attn: Mariah Watson, firstname.lastname@example.org
OTHER MAILING OPTIONS
Please download support letter template below and fill it in with your information. If you are writing on behalf of your organization, please print the letter directly onto your organizational letterhead and be sure to include the date, description of your organization, and include a signature, name and title at the bottom.
Please e-mail a PDF file of your signed letter to the Governor's office (Daniel.Seeman@Gov.Ca.Gov) AND send a copy to SB1437@restorecal.org. Feel free to contact us with any questions. We deeply appreciate your support!
TIPS FOR WRITING TO AN ELECTED OFFICIAL
Address the letter properly: Know your legislator’s full name, correct spelling and title. If you are uncertain, call the legislator’s office to get the correct information or look it up online at www.assembly.ca.gov.
Always include your last name and your address: A letter cannot be answered if there is no return address or if the signature is not legible.
Use your own words: Form letters and petitions may be helpful as a launching point, but this kind of correspondence tends to be identified as an organized campaign and is often answered with a standard reply. A thoughtful and factual letter carries more weight than a form letter or printed postcard. However, petitions are still useful to let legislators know that an issue is important to a large group of individuals.
Time the arrival of your letter: Write to your legislator and the chairperson of the committee dealing with the bill in which you are interested while the bill is still in committee. This will ensure there is still time to take effective action.
Be clear about the topic of your letter: Identify the bill or your issue of concern to you by referring to the bill’s number or its popular title.
Be brief and constructive: If you disagree with the approach of a bill, explain what you believe to be the correct approach.
Give the reasons for your opinion: Explain how an issue would affect you, your family, community, business or profession. Concrete, expert arguments for or against a bill can often influence a legislator’s opinion. You may also want to include articles, editorials or other supporting materials to help make your point.