How to Lobby a Legislative Bill Into Law

by Culture & Society Editor

Lobbying a legislation bill into law is a process all United States citizens have as a right. Each of us has some knowledge and the capability to help our lawmakers. The following steps will help you to help your home region's lawmakers.

Get Involved

Contact your representative. He does want to hear from you. Meet his staff. The better they know you, the more of an impact you will have with your letters and your visits to his office.

Learn all you need to know about your representative. Find out which committees she serves on. Talk to her staff. Check with different associations or other groups to learn of her affiliations.

Know your issue or pet project well before you start taking action on your issue. For the most part, people who work in the legislative process are experts. When you propose your legislation, be intelligent about your problem and then offer a solution to resolve it.

Ask your representative to author your bill or find someone else who is capable to author your bill successfully.

Bill Becomes Law

Gather all the support you can get. Ask other groups who support your bill to contact their representatives for support and their vote in a committee or on the floor.

Get the word out through local media with letters to the editor, get booked on radio and TV shows. Hold a workshop covering key issues of your bill.

Ask your lawmaker or his staff which policy committee reviews the bill and when is the hearing on the bill. Try to get on the list of those who must testify on the bill's behave.

Study the committee analysis of the bill. Look for details about current law, what the bill will do, background data and any questions raised by the consultant of the bill.

Path the Bill Follows

Monitor the bill by keeping track exactly where it goes. First reading is where the Clerk reads the bill number, the author's name and the bill's descriptive name.

Follow the bill as it is assigned to a policy committee where the author introduces the bill, so the committee can act on the bill. A majority vote is needed to get the bill out of the committee.

Continue with the bill as it goes to its second and third reading. The bill follows different criteria if it effects the overall budget. Your legislator should inform you about this aspect of the bill's process.

Watch as the bill goes through a repeat process in the other house.

Make sure if the bill is changed or amended in the second house, that it goes back to the house of origin for agreement or concurrence.

Keep your eye on the bill as it arrives at the Governor's or President's desk for signature. Based on what it does here, you may need to take further action.

Tips

  • You have knowledge that can help your elected official. Whether you are concerned about illiteracy in schools or crime on the street, you can make a difference by lobbying a bill into law.
  • As an example of tackling a problem, take the issue of over-crowded schools. You need to know the schools district's budget, who will offer support and who will oppose your solution.
  • Always ask your legislator or his staff how you should proceed. This is a coordination point. Besides, you pay your taxes and the taxes pay them. They are there to help you with the legislative process as they are for all purposes your employee.
  • All the information such as the path, votes, bill status and veto messages are available for anyone to review. Check with your lawmaker about this public service.
  • Every committee has a consultant for each bill that is presented. It's important to work with the consultant on the bill, giving him facts that support your issue.
  • Committee analysis plays an important role because the committee reads them and is influenced by the analysis.
  • Many factors are involved when a bill is introduced to the committee.
  • Every legislation has 2 houses in the United States. The bill has to be approved by both houses before going to the Governor for state laws, and President for the federal laws.
  • If a bill is vetoed, which means it doesn't get signed into law, you may be able to bypass going back to the houses for a vote. Check with your representative.

Warning

  • Sometimes a bill is killed, or eliminated from the process, several times before it becomes law. Keep at it by changing authors, rewording the bill, working with the opposition on the language of the bill or getting co-authors.

Photo Credits

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