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Public Policy 101 Presented by United Advocates for Children and Families Leadership Institute ©United Advocates for Children and Families 2012
United Advocates for Children and Families ©United Advocates for Children and Families United Advocates for Children and Families (UACF) is a statewide non-profit organization with a mission to improve the quality of life for all children and youth with mental, emotional, and behavioral challenges and to eliminate institutional discrimination and social stigma.
United Advocates for Children and Families Leadership Institute ©United Advocates for Children and Families The UACF Leadership Institute is dedicated to ensuring the family voice is present at all levels of decision making through effective advocacy, education, and community outreach. We work to empower parents, youth, and peer professionals working in the mental health system through education, training, and technical assistance.
How does the Legislative process effect you? What is a bill? How a Bill becomes a law Getting involved with public policy How to Contact Your Representative or Senator How to Write a Letter to Your Representative or Senator The “Do’s and Don’ts” of corresponding with elected officials Glossary of Terms ©United Advocates for Children and Families Training Overview
©United Advocates for Children and Families Public Policy 101 “I'm just a bill Yes, I'm only a bill And I'm sitting here on Capitol Hill Well, it's a long, long journey To the capital city It's a long, long wait While I'm sitting in committee But I know I'll be a law someday At least I hope and pray that I will But today I am still just a bill”
A plan or course of action, as of a government, political party, or business, intended to influence and determine decisions, actions, and other matters: American foreign policy; the company's personnel policy. A course of action, guiding principle, or procedure considered expedient, prudent, or advantageous: Honesty is the best policy. Prudence, shrewdness, or sagacity in practical matters. ©United Advocates for Children and Families What IS Policy?
We consider public policy as values, principles and basic rules that the courts and legislatures consider to be in the best interest of individuals and the general public. Public policy may be written or implied, and varies among states and municipalities. ©United Advocates for Children and Families Public Policy
We live the laws that are passed at the capitol. They govern how, when, where, and if we receive services. ©United Advocates for Children and Families How the Legislative Process Effects You Laws that are passed by the Legislature have a direct impact on all our lives. They effect all areas of our daily life including education, taxes, child welfare, as well as our mental health care.
Call your local legislators’ offices and request an appointment to meet them or their Chief of Staff. During your meeting: Ask questions regarding the law or policy. Ask about the status of a bill, law, policy, or program. Share information about yourself, your family, your child or youth, or your needs. Request assistance with issues that are important to you and your family. ©United Advocates for Children and Families Getting Involved with Public Policy
Writing to your Legislator ©United Advocates for Children and Families Address your letter properly. Be sure your exact return address is on the letter Identify your subject matter clearly. State the name and bill number of the legislation at the top of the page Be brief and to the point. State your reasons for writing. Your own personal experience is the best supporting evidence. Explain how the issue would affect you, your family, or your community.
The “Do’s and Don’ts” ©United Advocates for Children and Families Do: Put your thoughts in writing Address your representative properly Be brief and to the point and spell check your letter Include your name and address on the letter Write if you need help with governmental departments or agencies Show the local effects and tangible positive results of your position Include articles from your local news paper to reinforce your concerns Find out which committee your bill will be assigned to for approval Write the committees chair person and the members of the committee before they read the bill during the hearing Always say “Thank You” And be willing to compromise and open to discussion
The “Do’s and Don’ts” ©United Advocates for Children and Families Don’ts Rely on just making a phone call to legislators. Follow up with s and/or letters. Send your letter to only one legislator - if you are commenting on a current bill, send a letter to each committee member. Be rude, threatening or intimidating. Complain – always try to offer solutions to the issue you are addressing. Give up – always keep trying to get your bill passed.
There are many ways of finding your legislator, even if you do not know their name. Find Your United States Representative: Find Your United States Senator: mation/senators_cfm.cfm mation/senators_cfm.cfm One helpful site is the CA State Legislature website, which can be found at: tricts/legislators/your_legislator.html ©United Advocates for Children and Families Finding Your Legislator
Addressing Your Letters ©United Advocates for Children and Families To Your Representative: The Honorable (full name) (Room #) (Name) House Office Building United States House of Representatives Washington, DC To Your Senator: The Honorable (full name) (Room #) (Name) Senate Office Building United States Senate Washington, DC State Capitol Address: Honorable [name of legislator] California State [Senate or Assembly] State Capitol, Room [# here] Sacramento, CA 94815
Sample Letter ©United Advocates for Children and Families (Date) Dear Senator/Representative ____________: As a constituent of yours, I urge you to closely review and act upon a new National Academy of Sciences report to Congress on underage drinking. The report, prepared by many of the nation's top public health researchers, provides a long-overdue evidence-based roadmap to finally get serious about tackling the nation's number-one youth drug problem. Approximately 11 million American youth under the age of 21 drink alcohol, nearly half of them drink heavily (downing five or more per occasion). An estimated 3 million teenagers are full blown alcoholics, and several million more have a serious drinking problem. Alcohol kills six times more youth than all illicit drugs combined, and plays substantial role in the top three causes of teen death (traffic crashes, murder, and suicide). Those who start drinking before the age of 21 are more likely to be involved in a fight, commit violent crimes, fail at school, use other drugs, experience verbal, physical, or sexual violence, drink and drive, and become alcohol dependent than those who wait to drink legally. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, prevention efforts are beginning to pay off in declining rates of teen smoking. However, due to the absence of comparable efforts to combat underage drinking, youth alcohol use continues at alarmingly high rates. The time has come to end decades of complacency about one of the most devastating and neglected public health problems facing young people and society. Please do what you can to make sure that this important report gets the attention it deserves, and is acted upon with hearings and legislation. I specifically urge you to: Support legislation to establish a national media campaign on underage drinking aimed at instilling a broad societal commitment to reduce underage drinking; Reject legislation to reduce Federal excise taxes on beer (H.R. 1305, S. 809) and/or liquor (H.R. 2950, S. 1457); Support alcohol advertising reforms aimed at reducing youth exposure to alcohol promotion, as well as closer Federal monitoring and reporting on alcohol advertising practices. Thank you for considering this request. I look forward to hearing from you soon. Sincerely, [Your Name] [Your Address]
©United Advocates for Children and Families Most legislators have an address listed on their website. Remember your is read by staff not usually your legislator. Think short, short, short. Identify the issue or problem in the first sentence of the letter, and state your position. Support your position with your experiences. Be patient but persistent.
©United Advocates for Children and Families What is a Bill? A bill starts as an idea that an individual or a group has come up with. In order for the bill process to begin, the individual/group must find someone to author the bill. The author must be a member of the State or U.S. Senate, a State Assembly Member, or member of Congress.
Sample Bill Format ©United Advocates for Children and Families Sample Bill Format Italics = Directions (type Your Information or Delete) 113 th Congress 1st Session Senate Bill # ____________ A Bill For An Act Entitled: Title of bill or An Amendment to the Constitution Entitled: Title of amendment In the Senate Write the date Write: Senators Your names introduced the following resolution which was referred to the Committee on fill in this blank when you know the committee name. Senate Proposal Resolved by the U.S. Senate of the United States of America, that the following article is proposed as federal law under the jurisdiction of the Untied States of America, enforceable by Executive action. For a bill: "Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that:" For an Amendment: "Be it amended by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that:" Section 1: Explanation of terminology- Which terms need to be defined in order to understand the bill? Section 2: What is the act going to do? Who is going to be involved / impacted / affected by the act Section 3: Where? All of U.S. or a certain area / place in the U.S.? Section 4: How is the act going to be funded? Who is going to enforce / administer this act?(Which government agency will oversee the bill and its duties?) Section 5: Penalties (if any) for non-compliance (not following the rules) of the act Section 6: Enactment Date: When will the law go into effect? END
©United Advocates for Children and Families
Authored/Written First Reading/Introduction Committee Hearings Second and Third Reading Repeat Process in other House Resolution of Differences Governor Signs California Law ©United Advocates for Children and Families Prescribed Process
A Legislator sends the idea for the bill to the Legislative Counsel where it is drafted into the actual bill. The draft of the bill is returned to the Legislator for introduction. If the author is a Senator, the bill is introduced in the Senate. If the author is an Assembly Member, the bill is introduced in the Assembly. ©United Advocates for Children and Families Authored/Written
A bill is introduced or read the first time when: the bill number; the name of the author; the descriptive title of the bill is read on the floor of the house. Then it is sent to the Office of State Printing. It may not be acted upon until 30 days has passed from the date of its introduction. ©United Advocates for Children and Families First Reading/Introduction
The bill heads to the Rules Committee of the house of origin to be assigned to the appropriate policy committee for its first hearing. Bills are assigned to policy committees according to subject area of the bill. Each house has a number of policy committees and a fiscal committee. Each committee is made up of a specified number of Senators or Assembly Members. ©United Advocates for Children and Families Committee Hearings
Author presents the bill to the committee and testimony provided in support of or opposition to the bill. Committee votes by passing the bill, passing the bill as amended, or defeating the bill. Bills can be amended several times. A majority vote of the full committee membership is needed for a bill to be passed by the committee. This is a public process and sometimes the committee will take public comment in favor or opposition of the bill. ©United Advocates for Children and Families Committee Hearings Process
Committee Meetings ©United Advocates for Children and Families Committees meet throughout the year. You can check Committee meeting schedules at:
Bills passed by committees are read a second time on the floor in the house of origin and then assigned to third reading. When a bill is read the third time it is explained by the author, discussed by the Members and voted on by a roll call vote. ©United Advocates for Children and Families Second and Third Reading
Bills requiring appropriation or that take effect immediately, generally require 27 votes in the Senate and 54 votes in the Assembly to be passed. Other bills generally require 21votes in the Senate and 41 votes in the Assembly. If a bill is defeated, the Member may seek reconsideration and another vote. ©United Advocates for Children and Families Second and Third Reading (continued)
Process in the Other House ©United Advocates for Children and Families Once the bill has been approved by the house of origin it proceeds to the other house where the procedure is repeated. SenateAssembly
Amended bills in the 2 nd House go back to the House of origin for agreement on the amendments. If agreement cannot be reached, the bill is referred to a House conference committee to resolve differences. Three members of the committee are from both sides of the House. If a compromise is reached, the bill is returned to both Houses for a vote. ©United Advocates for Children and Families Resolution of Differences
If both houses approve a bill, it then goes to the Governor. The Governor has three choices: Sign the bill into law Allow it to become law without a signature Veto the bill Once passed/signed, most bills go into effect on the first day of January of the next year. Urgency measures take effect immediately after they are signed or allowed to become law without signature. ©United Advocates for Children and Families Governor
The Governor may also exercise a line item veto, whereby the amount of an appropriation is reduced or eliminated, while the rest of the bill is approved (also referred to as the “Blue Pencil”). A governor's veto can be overridden by a two thirds vote in both houses. ©United Advocates for Children and Families The Veto
Bills that are passed by the Legislature and approved by the Governor are assigned a chapter number by the Secretary of State. These Chaptered Bills (also referred to as Statutes of the year they were enacted) then become part of the California Codes. The California Codes are a comprehensive collection of laws grouped by subject matter. The California Constitution sets forth the fundamental laws by which the State of California is governed. All amendments to the Constitution come about as a result of constitutional amendments presented to the people for their approval. ©United Advocates for Children and Families California Law
State Authored Legislation Tracking: You can read actual Bills that have been introduced and track them as they make their was through the legislative process information/bill_information.html information/bill_information.html ©United Advocates for Children and Families Tracking a California Bill’s Progress
Open Congress: OpenCongress allows anyone to follow legislation in Congress, from bill introduction to floor vote. How To Identify a Bill Currently Being Considered in Congress: considered-congress.html#ixzz0r2PeViDl considered-congress.html#ixzz0r2PeViDl The Library of Congress: This website offers federal legislative information, including Congressional schedules and activities. ©United Advocates for Children and Families Legislative Tracking Resources
AB-Assembly Bill SB-Senate Bill ACA-Assembly Constitutional Amendments SCA-Senate Constitutional Amendment AJR-Assembly Joint Resolution SJR-Senate Joint Resolution ACR-Assembly Concurrent Resolution SCR-Senate Concurrent Resolution HR-House Resolution(Assembly) SR-Senate Resolution ACT-a bill passed by the Legislature ©United Advocates for Children and Families Glossary of Terms
For additional information please contact: United Advocates for Children and Families 2035 Hurley Way, Suite 290 Sacramento, CA (916) (866) ©United Advocates for Children and Families For More Information
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