#txlege 101 with Stephanie Chairello Noppenberg

Stephanie Chairello Noppenberg, policy analyst by day, comedian by night. At the Jones Center Community Room in the Contemporary Austin Downtown where Noppenberg released insight to the artist community on how the Texas Legislature functions. Director of “Over the Lege” a political satire variety show, brought comedic relief to important mundane topics in her effort to empower constituents and spread awareness to Austin community. She begins her discussion based on the question:

 “What does it mean to do more than nothing?”

Ways to Advocate


Write a letter: e-mail/post mail

When contacting your Legislator:

  • Include your contact information
  • Personal statement
  • Make a direct ask of the senator or representative
  • Thank them for their time


Texas Legislature Home Page

Resister for an account!


“It’s not pokemon go but its pretty important”


Call an office


  • Who you are
  • Why you’re calling
  • What you want the legislator to do
  • Thank person on phone


Note: Constituent Management Services (CMS) holds all of the constituent responses from phone calls and emails. Although both calling and emailing are great ways to voice your opinion, it is easier for CMS to record data in an email and respond to the constituent. Only for phone calls and thank you letters/email/calls do not receive responses, it becomes too redundant. On a side note, social media platforms do not receive tracking; Sen. Kirk Watson chooses to manage his own Twitter and Facebook accounts, opening conversations between constituent and Senator.


Visit an office


  • Who you are and why you are there
  • Register a position or talk to someone
  • Be nice to staff
  • Have a one-pager or a personal letter
  • Spend 15 min or less.


“I watch the house and senate like I do soap opera”


Testify in committee

  • Figure out when a bill of interest is in the committee

How to search for bills

  • Visit the capitol
  • Register as a witness

For the House  – video

For the Senate: In person, day of hearing, sometimes electronically (House) and sometimes                                                       manually with cards.

  • Testify!


Note: The committee is never mean to the testifier, print about twenty copies of your one-pager to handout and you will have two minutes to speak so keep it direct and to the point! Your one-pager can contain a short personal story as to why you feel so strongly about your position on the bill.


More Info!

Texas Legislature Online: Frequently asked questions

Citizen Handbook: How the Texas Legislature Works


Recognizing Political Realities

  • Someone might agree with you, but not vote the way you want them to
  • Not everyone will agree with you so find a common ground wherever you can
  • Adjust your language when necessary
  • Find an organization you trust and let them do the work for you!

Texas Tribune     Austin Chronicle    Statesman    Quarum Report (Subscription only)

Last Minute Tips

  • Be concise and consistent in your message
  • Personalize your statement
  • Be polite and professional
  • Don’t make threats
  • Do some research before contacting an office


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