Presentation on theme: "More Ways To Make A Difference North Dakota Action Coalition: Health Policy & Advocacy Group."— Presentation transcript:
More Ways To Make A Difference North Dakota Action Coalition: Health Policy & Advocacy Group
Learning Objectives Why should nurses be engaged/involved in the policy process? How can nurses influence the process? How can nurses make sure that their voices are heard?
What is “government”? Government defined: Merriam Webster defines government as “the group of people who control and make decisions for a country, state, etc.” http://www.merriam- webster.com/dictionary/governmenthttp://www.merriam- webster.com/dictionary/government In the United States, we have a representative democracy Citizens elect leaders to represent their interests in the lawmaking process The people that an elected official (i.e. Senator, Representative, etc.) represent are known as their “constituents” Once an individual is elected to public office, nothing legally binds them to vote in a certain way One of the inherent risks of this type of government– candidates can make certain promises to voters while campaigning, but then behave in a different manner once elected
Three Branches of Government The system of government used in the United States is characterized by a “separation of powers” Our government is divided into three branches, the: Legislative branch Executive branch Judicial branch Certain powers are reserved to each branch, creating a system of “checks and balances” This was designed to prevent any branch of government from obtaining too much power
Legislative Branch The legislative branch is the branch of government tasked with the responsibility of passing laws At the federal level, the legislative branch is generally referred to as “Congress” At the state level, the legislative branch is usually referred to as simply the “state legislature” For both the federal and state government, the legislative branch is “bicameral” “Bicameral” means that the branch is divided into two separate chambers, the “house” and the “senate”
Legislative Branch Apportionment & Terms Federal level– outlined in the U.S. Constitution Senate Each state has two U.S. senators, regardless of population Senators represent their entire state and they are selected through a statewide election Senators are elected to terms of 6 years Elections are “staggered”, meaning that terms of the 100 American senators concluded at different stages Every 2 years, approximately 1/3 of the country’s senate seats are up for election The U.S. Senate was designed to be the more deliberative, slower-moving chamber of Congress
Legislative Branch Apportionment & Terms Federal level– outlined in the U.S. Constitution House The number of house seats allocated to each state is done proportionately, based on population The larger a state’s population, the more house seats they are allotted Regardless of population, each state is guaranteed at least one seat in the U.S. House of Representatives “Reapportionment” is done every 10 years– if the census shows a state has grown or shrunk in population, relative to other states, the number of house seats allotted to them may increase or decrease
Legislative Branch Apportionment & Terms Federal level– outlined in the U.S. Constitution House In states with a single house seat, like North Dakota, representatives are elected by a statewide vote, and they represent the entire state Most states, however, have multiple seats in the U.S. House The respective state legislatures divide their state into a number of “congressional districts” (each district is required to be approximately equal in population) based on how many seats they were allotted These representatives are chosen by elections held within each district, not by a statewide vote In Congress, they are tasked with representing the constituents of their particular district, not the entire state
Legislative Branch Apportionment & Terms Federal level– outlined in the U.S. Constitution House Members of the House of Representatives are elected to serve terms of two years in length In contrast with the U.S. Senate, all members of the U.S. House of Representatives face election at the same time (elections are not staggered) “The People’s House” This chamber was designed to be faster moving than the U.S. Senate and more reflective of the citizenry’s changing viewpoints, which is why its members face reelection every two years (as opposed to the U.S. Senate’s six-year term length
Legislative Branch Apportionment & Terms State level– outlined in the North Dakota Constitution Members of both the North Dakota Senate and the North Dakota House of Representatives are elected to serve 4-year terms The state is divided into 47 districts, approximately equal in population Each legislative district is represented in Bismarck by 1 state senator and 2 state representatives Elections are staggered, so that approximately half of the state’s legislative districts hold elections every two years
Legislative Branch The two chambers, the Senate and the House, vote on laws separately If a law passes one chamber, it is sent to the other for consideration If a law is passed by both the Senate and the House, it is sent to the executive branch to be signed At the federal level, the law is sent to the President of the United States At the state level, it is sent to the Governor A law cannot be sent to the executive branch to be signed unless it passes both chambers of the legislative branch
Executive Branch The executive branch is the branch of government tasked with executing the laws passed by the legislative branch At the federal level, the executive branch is led by the President of the United States At the state level, the executive branch is led by the Governor Both the President and the Governor are elected to serve terms that are four years in length
Executive Branch At the federal level, Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates run together as a “ticket” They are elected by a vote of the “electoral college”, not by a popular “majority-rule” vote Each state has a designated number of votes in the electoral college, equal to the sum of their numbers of U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives For example, North Dakota (which has 1 representative and 2 senators [like all states]) has 3 votes in the electoral college, the minimum a state may have Minnesota (which has 8 representatives and 2 senators) has 10 votes in the electoral college If a presidential ticket wins the popular vote within a state, they win the whole of that state’s electoral votes (ignoring a few exceptions) If Presidential Candidate A wins 53% of the vote in Minnesota and Presidential Candidate B receives 47% of the vote, Presidential Candidate A wins all 10 of Minnesota’s electoral votes while Presidential Candidate B receives zero
Executive Branch Electoral College Continued… Currently, there are 538 votes in the electoral college Because a candidate must receive a simple majority of votes in the electoral college to win, 270 votes are required This system can allow for a Presidential ticket receiving fewer votes nationwide than another ticket (that is, losing the popular vote) to still win the presidency This occurred when George W. Bush was elected in 2000 Small states like North Dakota have greater influence under this system because they are guaranteed 3 votes in the electoral college
Executive Branch Electoral College Continued… Electoral College system results in voters from certain states receiving more attention than others It doesn’t matter how many of a state’s votes a candidate receives if another candidate receives more Examples: Democratic presidential candidates put little effort campaigning in Texas, which they know is likely to vote Republican Republican presidential candidates put little effort campaigning in California, which they know is likely to vote Democratic If presidential candidates were elected through a nationwide popular vote, Republicans would likely put more effort courting voters in California, as would Democrats in Texas, because even if they do not win in the state, they still benefit from earning some votes
Executive Branch State level In North Dakota, candidates for the positions of Governor and Lieutenant Governor run together as a unified ticket They are elected to serve 4-year terms In contrast to the use of the electoral college at the federal level, a simple statewide election is used to determine North Dakota’s Governor and Lietenant Governor
Executive Branch The head of the executive branch has the power to sign into effect laws passed by the legislative branch The President (or Governor) also has the power to “veto” legislation sent to them by the legislative branch If this occurs, the law does not go into effect; rather, it sent back to the legislature for reconsideration The legislature can override the executive’s veto with the vote of a “supermajority”, 2/3 of each chamber The legislature can modify (make amendments to) the vetoed legislation, repass it, and send it back to the executive branch The veto may also “kill” the legislation
Executive Branch The Vice President (federal) and Lieutenant Governor (state) are also members of the executive branch The Vice President serves as the President of the U.S. Senate and the Lieutenant Governor serves as President of the N.D. Senate The Vice President/Lieutenant Governor only have the ability to cast votes on legislation in the event of a tie
Executive Branch All of the various governmental departments, charged with implementing and enforcing laws passed by the legislative branch, are a part of the executive branch Examples at the federal level Department of Agriculture Department of Health and Human Services Department of the Treasury Examples at the state level Department of Health Department of Transportation Department of Commerce Heads of these departments are appointed by the Executive Branch
Judicial Branch “The courts system” The judicial branch is about much more than just trying individuals for crimes From whitehouse.gov: “Federal courts enjoy the sole power to interpret the law, determine the constitutionality of the law, and apply it to individual cases. The courts, like Congress, can compel the production of evidence and testimony through the use of a subpoena. The inferior courts are constrained by the decisions of the Supreme Court– once the Supreme Court interprets a law, inferior courts must apply the Supreme Court’s interpretation to the facts of a particular case.” http://www.whitehouse.gov/our-government/judicial-branchhttp://www.whitehouse.gov/our-government/judicial-branch
Judicial Branch The judicial branch provides a crucial check on the legislative and executive branch The judicial branch… Can strike down any law passed by Congress on the grounds of constitutionality May also rule actions of the President (executive branch) to be unconstitutional Executive orders Actions of executive agencies, such as the EPA
Judicial Branch Weaknesses of the judicial branch The courts cannot act alone A case must be brought to them In order for someone to bring a case to them, they must have been wronged The courts have no enforcement mechanism They may strike down a law on constitutional grounds, but they have no way of enforcing their decision The courts need the support of the executive branch in order for their decisions to be implemented/enforced
Judicial Branch At higher levels of government, the judicial branch is insulated from the people Justices of the Supreme Court/Judges of Federal Courts are appointed by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate In contrast with the legislative/executive branches, they are not elected by the people This means that they don’t have any voters to appease Theoretically, this allows justices to vote their conscience, whether or not it will be politically popular
Division of Government How is government power divided at the various levels? Federal National level President, Congress, Supreme Court, etc. Powers are both originated and limited by the United States Constitution 10 th Amendment: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” State Laws apply only to the individual states Governors, state legislatures, state supreme courts, etc.
Division of Government How is government power divided at the various levels? City (“Municipal”) Mayor, City Council, Municipal Court School Board, Park Board, etc. Policies apply only to cities themselves Called “ordinances”, not “laws” County County commissions, sheriffs, etc.
Why do I need to know about government? Why is it important to be informed/engaged in the process? Everything that government does affects us Recent historical example of issue that had an effect on nursing industry (this issue will be referenced throughout module as well) Government by the people, for the people If you don’t stay informed and take advantage of your right to make a difference, then you are, in effect, surrendering your voice Without your involvement in the process, laws will still be made– but will they be the laws that are best for you, your family, your organization, your business, your career, or any other area of personal interest? Engagement and involvement allows you to influence the outcome of the policymaking process
How are laws made? Laws can be made a couple of different ways Laws can be made by elected officials (through the legislative branch) Laws can also be made by a vote of the people (through referendums, initiatives, etc.) The first way is far more common How does this work?
How are laws made? A very brief overview… First, a bill must be passed by the legislature, which is divided into 2 different chambers Both chambers (the house and senate) must pass the bill Next, the bill must be signed by the Governor’s office (executive branch) Without his signature, the bill doesn’t become law The governor may “veto” the law and send it back to the legislature unsigned Even if the governor vetoes a bill passed by the legislature, the bill can still be made into law if both chambers of the legislature vote (with a 2/3 supermajority) to override the governor’s veto The power to sign/veto legislation is one of the most significant tools at the disposal of the governor in promoting their legislative agenda Legislators want their legislation to be signed into law, enabling the governor to shape legislation by threatening a veto if changes are not made
How are laws made? A very brief overview… (continued) Finally, the bill becomes law and is implemented according to the text Some laws go into effect immediately, while others have a specified date at which they go into effect The executive branch is charged with executing/implementing the laws passed by the legislature and signed by the governor Various executive agencies may be assigned various responsibilities in implementing/enforcing the law They may also develop additional procedures/regulations to “fill in the blanks” of the legislation Is it really this simple? Yes and no… This is how the system works, but there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes
More about the legislature… How many members are in the House & Senate? Federal level Senate: 100 members House: 435 members, plus 5 nonvoting members that represent the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands http://www.house.gov/content/learn/http://www.house.gov/content/learn/ North Dakota Senate: 47 members House: 94 members
More about the legislature… Why the difference in size between the chambers? At both the state and federal level, the House of Representatives is larger than the Senate The House is supposed to be the chamber that is more connected to the people By having more members, the viewpoint of more constituents will be represented It is more likely that a diverse range of ideas will be considered in discussions The Senate is designed to be the more deliberative, slower-moving body It was envisioned as the more “experienced” chamber– at the federal level, Senators must be a minimum 30 years of age, while Representatives need only be 25 Because the chamber is smaller, it should be easier for negotiations to take place and for consenus to form
Campaigns & Elections How do citizens get chosen to serve in the House & Senate? Quick overview of the campaign process 2-Party System The American political process is characterized by some as a “2-party system” This is in reference to the two major political parties in the United States The Republican Party The Democratic Party But aren’t there more than two political parties? Yes! In fact, there are dozens Two of the more well-known “third-parties” include the Libertarian Party and the Green Party Some candidates run as independents
Campaigns & Elections So, why do people say we have a 2-party system? It’s hard to win unless you’re a Republican or a Democrat Advantages possessed by candidates belonging to either the Republican or Democratic parties can include: Electoral College In order to win any votes in the electoral college, a candidate has to win the popular vote in a state In the 1990s, Ross Perot ran for President twice as a 3 rd party candidate and gained a sizeable amount of the vote (18.9% in 1992 under the “United We Stand” party and 8.4% under the “Reform Party” in 1996) http://thecontenders.c- span.org/Contender/15/Ross-Perot.aspxhttp://thecontenders.c- span.org/Contender/15/Ross-Perot.aspx Perot earned a sizeable amount of the popular vote, but didn’t receive a majority of the popular vote in any state– this means that he didn’t earn a single electoral vote either year Easier process to get on the Ballot Party Infrastructure (fundraising, advertising, etc.) Voter familiarity with the brands of political parties
Campaigns & Elections Primary Election When most people think of political elections, they think of the general election in November The candidates that voters get to choose from in November are usually determined through a “primary election” held sometime prior Per North Dakota Century Code, primary elections are held “On the second Tuesday in June of every general election year” Primary systems differ by state, so we’ll focus on North Dakota “Open Primary” style Voters can only vote for candidates of one political party on election day, i.e. only Republicans or only Democrats All candidates are on the same ballot There are not separate ballots for Republicans and Democrats, just different sections on the ballots for candidates of the different parties
Campaigns & Elections Voters in a primary election may choose to vote for either Republican or Democratic candidates once they are in the ballot box, but they cannot vote for both This means that a voter who considers themselves to be a Democrat could choose to vote for Republican candidates in the primary (or vice versa) and vote for the candidates that they think their party’s candidate would be able to easily defeat in the general election more easily Most of the time in North Dakota, primary elections are a formality (That is, the majority of the races are not contested by multiple candidates)
Campaigns & Elections How do candidates get their names placed on the ballot? Most common way: Party endorsement conventions The Republican and Democratic parties in North Dakota conduct “endorsement conventions” at both the district and state levels District level Conventions held to endorse candidates for the state legislature (generally one senate candidate, two house candidates) Voters attending the convention must be residents of the district Candidates deliver speeches to attendees, who then vote on their favorites The candidates that are selected at the district convention are then submitted for inclusion on the primary ballot These conventions are very grassroots and easy to get involved with Generally, there are relatively few people in attendance, so each person’s vote can carry significant influence
Campaigns & Elections State-level Conventions Attendees at the state endorsing conventions are known as “delegates” Each district is represented at the state endorsing convention by their delegates The number of delegates allotted to each district is determined b y party rules and are not equal Delegates for each district are elected to serve in the role at their district conventions Candidates are endorsed for partisan offices to be voted on statewide, including U.S. Senate, U.S. House, Governor/Lieutenant Governor, Agricultural Commissioner, Attorney General, Public Service Commissioner, Secretary of State, State Auditor, Tax Commissioner, and Treasurer Most of the time, the candidates selected at endorsement conventions go into the primary uncontested, but sometimes they face challengers who have their name placed on the ballot through a different route
Campaigns & Elections Alternative method for candidates to have their names placed on the ballot: petitions Candidates can have their name placed on the primary election ballot by submitting a petition signed by a sufficient number of qualified electors Number of signatures required varies by circumstance For legislative offices, “the signatures of at least one percent of the total resident population of the legislative district as determined by the most recent federal decennial census” Required number of signatures for other circumstances can be viewed here:
Legislative Districts North Dakota is divided into 47 legislative districts Each district is represented in the legislature by 1 senator and 2 representatives Every 10 years, after the census, the legislature goes through a “redistricting” process where district lines are reevaluated based on changes in population Each district is supposed to be roughly the same size in population Section 2 of the North Dakota Constitution states that the legislature shall “guarantee, as nearly as practicable, that every elector is equal to every other elector in the state in the power to cast ballots for legislative candidates.” The last time redistricting happened in ND was in 2011 Each district was designed to include approximately 13,664 residents The largest district was 14,249 The smallest district was 13,053 http://www.legis.nd.gov/files/resource/62-2011/legislative-management-final- reports/2011ssfinalreports.pdf?20140214165316 http://www.legis.nd.gov/files/resource/62-2011/legislative-management-final- reports/2011ssfinalreports.pdf?20140214165316
The North Dakota Legislature How often does the legislature meet? The legislature meets for its regular session once every two years The maximum length of the regular session is 80 days. The North Dakota Constitution states that “No regular session of the legislative assembly may exceed eighty natural days during the biennium.” http://www.legis.nd.gov/constit/a04.pdf?20140214171800 http://www.legis.nd.gov/constit/a04.pdf?20140214171800 These days do not need to be consecutive North Dakota legislative sessions generally begin in January and end sometime in late April or early May of odd-numbered years In 2013, the Legislative Assembly convened on January 8 th and adjourned on May 4 th http://www.legis.nd.gov/assembly/63-2013/regularhttp://www.legis.nd.gov/assembly/63-2013/regular The Governor may call special sessions of the legislature which do not count toward the 80-day maximum
The Legislature Where does the legislature meet? The legislature meets for its general session at the state capital building in Bismarck, ND Interim legislative committees, which meet between legislative sessions, may meet elsewhere in the state
The Legislature What does the legislature “do”? What powers do they have? The Legislative Assembly passes the laws which govern the state They appropriate funds for the operation of state government “Advise and Consent” Applies only to the senate, not the house The Governor has the power to make appointments to a variety of positions As a check on the power of the executive branch, the North Dakota Senate has the power to “advise and consent” the governor on some of these appointments– they must vote to confirm the governor’s appointees Offices that this applies to include: Members of the State Board of Higher Education Commissioner of Financial Institutions Securities Commissioner http://www.legis.nd.gov/research-center/library/legislative-branch-function-and-process
The Legislature What does the legislature “do”? What powers do they have? Oversight It is the duty of the legislature to maintain proper oversight over executive agencies, government subdivisions, and other organizations receiving support from the legislature They must unsure that these groups are respecting the intent of the legislation they enact They must ensure that the taxpayer-funds they have allocated are being spent appropriately
The Legislature What’s a bill? What’s a resolution? A bill, as defined on the website of the North Dakota legislature: “Bills create, amend, or repeal law. To become law, a bill must pass the House of Representatives and the Senate by a majority vote of the members-elect in each house. Bills may be introduced by members of the Legislative Assembly, standing committees, or the Legislative Management. A state executive agency or the North Dakota Supreme Court can have bills automatically introduced in the name of the standing committee to which the bill will be referred. House bills begin with the number 1001, and Senate bills begin with the number 2001. The Constitution of North Dakota (Article IV, Section 13) provides that bills adopted by the Legislative Assembly generally take effect August 1 after filing with the Secretary of State. However, certain appropriations and tax measures become effective July 1. The effective date may be later if specifically written into a bill. The effective date may be earlier if the Legislative Assembly declares an “emergency” and the measure receives a two-thirds vote of the members-elect in each house. http://www.legis.nd.gov/general-information
The Legislature A resolution, as defined on the website of the North Dakota legislature: “Resolutions propose constitutional amendments, express opinions, request actions, congratulate, or console. Resolutions do not have the effect of law. Resolutions are the vehicles used to propose constitutional amendments for voter consideration. Resolutions are used to request an interim study by the Legislative Management on a specific subject. Resolutions frequently express legislative opinion to Congress or other federal offices with regard to federal programs or policies. House concurrent resolutions begin with the number 3001, and Senate concurrent resolutions begin with the number 4001. Concurrent means that a particular resolution must be approved by both the House and Senate. The House or Senate may use resolutions for their own separate business such as memorial resolutions for deceased members, e.g., House Memorial Resolution 7001 and Senate Memorial Resolution 8001.” http://www.legis.nd.gov/general-information
The Legislature What is a “Session Law”? From the website of the North Dakota State Legislature: “Session Laws contain the text of all measures enacted (bills) or adopted (resolutions) by a particular Legislative Assembly. Session Laws also include: Constitutional amendments proposed by the Legislative Assembly. Vote totals are provided for those “approved” or “disapproved” since publication of the preceding Session Laws. Initiated laws or constitutional amendments and referred bills submitted to voters since publication of the preceding Session Laws (includes vote totals). Governor’s veto messages. Lists of House and Senate members. A statewide legislative district map. Recent Session Laws are online at http://www.legis.nd.gov. “http://www.legis.nd.gov http://www.legis.nd.gov/general-information
The Legislature Who are my legislators? Where do I go to find out? Is it okay to contact them? Every district in North Dakota contains one seat in the Senate and one seat in the House of Representatives This means that every North Dakotan is represented in the Legislative Assembly by one state senator and two state representatives (except in rare circumstances where a seat is vacant for whatever reason) To find out who your legislators are, you must first know what legislative district you are in Your legislative district is determined based on your residency in the state
The Legislature How is my residency determined? Section 54-01-26 of the North Dakota Century Code “Residence – Rules for determining” lays out some basic rules, several of which are displayed below “Every person has in law a residence. In determining the place of residence, the following rules must be observed:” It is the place where one remains when not called elsewhere for labor or other special or temporary purpose and to which the person returns in seasons of repose. There can only be one residence. A residence cannot be lost until another is gained. The residence can be changed only by the union of act and intent http://www.legis.nd.gov/cencode/t54c01.pdf?20140221202219 Article II of the North Dakota Constitution emphasizes that “No elector shall lose his residency for voting eligibility solely by reason of his absence from the state.” http://www.legis.nd.gov/constit/a02.pdf?20140221203528
The Legislature How is my residency determined? Section 16.1-01-14 of the North Dakota Century Code establishes that, to be a qualified elector for a given precinct or district, an individual must have resided there for at least 30 days prior to the election If you have lived in the same location for more than 30 days, that location is your residency If you have not yet lived in a location for 30 days, your previous address is still used to determine your residency Biggest takeaway: you establish residency by living in a location for 30 days. If you move, you do not forfeit your previous residency status until you reestablish yourself somewhere else
The Legislature This is a map of the state divided by legislative districts http://www.legis.nd.gov/files/district-maps/2013- 2022/population.pdf?20140221194112
The Legislature If you live in one of the geographically-larger districts, it should be easy to tell what district you reside in. If you live in one of the state’s larger cities or near the border of two districts, it might be tough to tell what district you are a resident of. The state of North Dakota’s website provides maps provides maps of smaller geographic areas for the bigger communities in the state, as well as an interactive statewide map. If you live in an urban area, these options may be useful for you. Links to the various maps can be accessed through this site: http://www.legis.nd.gov/districts/2013-2022 http://www.legis.nd.gov/districts/2013-2022 Once you have found out which legislative district you are in, you are just a few steps away from knowing who your legislators are!
The Legislature First, open up your internet browser and visit the website www.legis.nd.gov www.legis.nd.gov
The Legislature On the left side of the page, click the link referencing the current legislative assembly. You will then be brought to this page: http://www.legis.nd.gov/assembly/63-2013
The Legislature On the right side of the page, under the heading “Membership Information”, click the link which reads “Members by District”--- http://www.legis.nd.gov/assembly/63-2013http://www.legis.nd.gov/assembly/63-2013 You will now be viewing a page which lists all members of the current Legislative Assembly, divided by their districts. Simply scroll down until you find your district and your legislators! To find out more about an individual legislator, and to see their contact information, simply click on their name
The Legislature As an example, here is the state webpage for Representative Thomas Beadle. Each legislator’s page lists their district, political party, chamber, committee membership, contact information, and a brief biography. http://www.legis.nd.gov/assembly/63- 2013/members/house/representative-thomas-beadle
The Legislature Speaking with your legislator A lot of people are intimidated about giving their legislator a call or sending them an email—they shouldn’t be! Things to remember: North Dakota has a “Citizen legislature”—that means that, other than a period of about 80 days every two years, your legislators live perfectly normal lives. They probably have another other jobs and likely live in a home not so far from yours! If the idea of talking to a legislator makes you nervous, try and think of it as speaking with a coworker or neighbor: it probably isn’t too far from the truth! Legislators want to hear from you. Whether or not you voted for them, they know that their purpose is to represent you and your interests. The more informed they are, the more-able they are to do their job. They want to learn more about the issues being discussed, and have a better idea of how their constituents feel Be respectful and professional. This will help you build credibility with the legislator and maximize the impact you can have.
The Legislature Don’t be surprised if you don’t hear back from your legislator right away Legislators are busy people. In addition to their public service, many of them have other full-time jobs. Your feedback is important to them and you should expect them to get back to you, but don’t be surprised if it takes them a little bit of time Especially if you are trying to get in touch with them during the legislative session or close to an election. These are extraordinarily busy times for legislators, where they are balancing a lot of duties and obligations--responding to your feedback is certainly one, but be understanding if it takes a little while.
The Legislature Leadership in the legislature Both chambers of the legislature have leaders elected by the two parties The party with more members is known as the “majority party”, while the party with fewer members is known as the “minority party” Each party elects leadership within the chamber Majority party elects “majority leadership” Minority party elects “minority leadership”
The Legislature Senate Leadership President: Lieutenant Governor Drew Wrigley (Republican) This position is not elected by the Senate, but through a statewide election as was previously covered President Pro Tempore: Senator Terry M. Wanzek (Republican) Majority Leader: Senator Rich Wardner (Republican) Assistant Majority Leader: Senator Jerry Klien (Jerry Klein) Minority Leader: Senator Mac Schneider (Democrat) Assistant Minority Leader: Senator Joan Heckaman (Democrat) Majority Caucus Leader: Senator David Hogue (Republican) Minority Caucus Leader: Senator John M. Warner
The Legislature House Leadership Speaker of the House: Rep. Bill Devlin (Republican) Majority Leader: Rep. Al Carlson (Republican) Assistant Majority Leader: Rep. Don Vigesaa (Republican) Minority Leader: Rep. Kenton Onstad (Democrat) Assistant Minority Leader: Corey Mock (Democrat) Majority Caucus Leader: Rep. Joe Heilman (Republican) Minority Caucus Leader: Rep. Ed Gruchalla (Democrat)
The Lawmaking Process So, we know that the legislature votes on bills, and if there are enough votes (and the governor signs it), the bill becomes law. But where do these laws come from?
The Lawmaking Process Bills & Resolutions Who writes them? Bills and resolutions can be written by legislators, interest groups, and even individuals Why do they write them? What are they ultimately trying to accomplish? Prior to writing any legislation, the author should establish a clear purpose and ask themselves a few questions: What are my specific objectives? What is the overall goal that I want this legislation to accomplish? What are the common themes of my objectives? Has anybody else tried doing this? In North Dakota? In the region? In the country?
The Lawmaking Process Who would make good partners in this effort? Are there any interest groups that have a similar goal? Individual Legislators? Political Parties?
The Lawmaking Process What does the author include in the bill? Writing law is very complex Common for authors to have legal counsel assist them in crafting legislation This helps to ensure that the authors intent is consistent with the text of the law The bill must include the appropriate language so that it accomplishes the author’s objectives The bill must take the status quo into account Is the bill a new addition to law? Is the bill amending existing law? Is the bill repealing existing law?
The Lawmaking Process Politics matters in bill writing Bills go through many changes from the time they are first introduced to when they are signed into law by the Governor This means that if a group’s ideal legislation is introduced, it probably will not look the same by the time it is passed (if it is passed at all) This means that there are some important considerations that authors of legislation must take into account. Some of them include: What is the likelihood of the legislation getting passed? Is there room for compromise? What elements of the bill are absolutely essential in order for the bill’s overall goal to be accomplished?
The Lawmaking Process Sometimes, a group must accomplish their goals incrementally Change is controversial Things which are controversial are more difficult to pass in the legislature The bigger the change in policy a piece of legislation represents, the more difficult it may be to pass This presents more questions for groups and individuals drafting legislation to consider: Do we think we can get all of what we want in this legislation passed? Is our effort worthwhile if we can get “some” of what we want, but not all of it?
The Lawmaking Process What parts of our legislation would we feel comfortable “dropping” Are there elements of the legislation that will create unnecessary controversy? (i.e. the risk to the legislation posed by the added controversy is greater than the benefit added by the controversial element) Do we deliberately include portions that can be dropped later? (i.e. do we include content that goes ‘above and beyond’ our goal) Benefits: If the entire legislation makes it through, you accomplish more than your goal There is more room for compromising, while still accomplishing your objectives Drawbacks: Could create unnecessary controversy This controversy could threaten the entire legislation and your overall objectives, not just the ‘extra’ parts
The Lawmaking Process When do bills get written? Bills are usually written between legislative sessions Deadline for bill submission is early in the legislative session What if multiple people have similar bills? Sometimes multiple legislators author bills that have similar content May be designed to address the same problem or centered on the same idea Minor differences between similar bills may exist in the style (use of language) used More significant differences may be the magnitude of the legislation Versions may differ in how “extreme” an approach they take Size of appropriations in bills may vary
The Lawmaking Process Selecting sponsors A “sponsor” is the legislator that introduces a bill or resolution for consideration by the legislative assembly Multiple legislators can sponsor the same piece of legislation In these cases, they are known as “co-sponsors” The bill or resolution is branded with the name of the sponsors While individuals and interest groups can write pieces of legislation, they cannot present it for consideration by the legislature This is why a sponsor is needed
The Lawmaking Process Selecting the right sponsor(s) is very important to the success of a bill What things does an organization need to consider in selecting the right sponsor(s)? Which legislators will support this policy? Obviously, a legislator will not sponsor legislation that they do not support. This is the most basic thing to consider when narrowing down the list of legislators you can ask to sponsor a bill. Partisanship On some issues, Republican and Democratic legislators may be sharply divided Political parties are often hesitant to allow the other side to “score” political victories The majority party may block legislation proposed by the minority, even if they agree with it. Why? If the legislation passes, it strengthens the minority party at the expense of the majority party If they really do like the idea, members of the majority party can author similar legislation and propose it themselves, allowing them to take credit
The Lawmaking Process How can having the right sponsor(s) mitigate the threat that political division poses to your legislation? In a polarized political environment, having cosponsors from both the Republican and Democratic parties sends a strong message to the public. Legislation labeled as “bipartisan” may be received more favorably by the public. If both parties can “share” credit for legislation they agree on, they don’t need to be as afraid of the other side scoring points. If securing sponsors from both sides of the aisle isn’t possible, or is impracticable for the given circumstances, it may be most desirable to have a sponsor from the majority party This is particularly true if the same political party controls both chambers of the legislature (even more so if the Governor is a part of the same party) While legislators do not vote with their party 100% of the time, as a general rule, legislators of the same party vote together. If a member of the majority party is sponsoring a piece of legislation, they will generally have an easier time securing votes
The Lawmaking Process Committee membership A legislator who is a member of the committee that the legislation will likely be considered by could make for a strong sponsor They may be respected on the subject matter They are likely to be well-informed and knowledgeable of the history applicable to the issue They will be in a strong position to defend the legislation during committee discussions Life Experience A legislator with personal or professional experience related to the legislation’s subject matter may be better prepared to make a strong case for it A legislator personally affected by the problem the legislation was designed to combat may be a more passionate advocate
The Lawmaking Process Personal Reputation A legislator that is not well respected by the public may not make for a good sponsor, even if they are a strong advocate for the legislation You do not want the spirit of the legislation to be tarnished by a legislator with a poor reputation If a legislator is going to vote against your bill, you do not want it to be because of the person sponsoring the bill Trust Whenever possible, you should select a sponsor that you trust to accomplish the goals of your legislation Prior to asking a legislator to sponsor your bill, you should be confident that their goals for the legislation are aligned with the goals of your organization
The Lawmaking Process Legislative Committees What’s the point of committees? It’s tough to work through a brand new piece of legislation in a body composed of dozens of members Bills often go through many changes Everything from typos to simple changes in language—things that do not affect the overall intent of the bill, but need to be changed nonetheless Committees allow for more negotiation There is more time for intense deliberation Members have more time to express their concerns and elaborate on them Proponents can make concessions to garner more support and secure votes
The Lawmaking Process What’s the point of committees? (continued) Tough to be experts on every issue Legislature is filled with many incredibly bright and experienced individuals No matter how hard they may try, it’s difficult to be an expert on every issue the legislature considers Individuals serving on legislative committees listen to testimony from people ranging from everyday citizens to national experts Through testimony and lengthy discussion, committee members are able to become particularly knowledgeable in the committee’s subject matter Other members of the general assembly can utilize the expertise of committee members to assist them in making their decision, notably through the various committees’ “pass” or “do not pass” recommendations
The Lawmaking Process What Committees are there? A wide variety… HouseSenate Standing Committees Agriculture Appropriations Appropriations- Education and Environmental Division Education Appropriations- Government Operations Division Finance and Taxation Appropriations- Human Resources Division Government and Veterans Affairs EducationHuman Services Energy and Natural ResourcesIndustry, Business, and Labor Finance and TaxationJudiciary Government and Veterans Affairs Natural Resources Human ServicesPolitical Subdivisions Industry, Business and LaborTransportation Judiciary Political Subdivisions
The Lawmaking Process What committees are there? (continued) House Procedural CommitteesSenate Procedural Committees Arrangements for House Committee Rooms Arrangement for Senate Committee Rooms Committees Correction and Revision of the Journal Delayed Bills Employment Inaugural Planning Rules
The Lawmaking Process What committees are there? (continued) Interim Committees Administrative Rules Committee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations Agriculture Committee Budget Section Commission on Alternatives to Incarceration Economic Impact Committee Education Funding Committee Employee Benefits Programs Committee Energy Development and Transmission Committee Government Finance Committee Government Services Committee Health Care Reform Review Committee Health Services Committee Higher Education Funding Committee Human Services Committee Information Technology Committee Judiciary Committee Legacy and Budget Stabilization Fund Advisory Board Legislative Audit and Fiscal Review Committee Legislative Management Legislative Procedure and Arrangements Committee Taxation Committee Tribal and State Relations Committee Water Topics Overview Committee Workers’ Compensation Review Committee
The Lawmaking Process What committees are there? (continued) North Dakota Statutory Committees Advisory Committee on Sustainable Agriculture Airplane Replacement Advisory Committee Capitol Grounds Planning Commission Child Support Guidelines Drafting Advisory Committee Commission on Legal Counsel for Indigents Commission on Uniform State Laws Committee on Protection and Advocacy Comprehensive Health Association of North Dakota Board Court Facilities Improvement Advisory Committee Crop Protection Product Harmonization and Registration Board Devils Lake Outlet Management Advisory Committee Education Commission of the States Emergency Commission Health Information Technology Advisory Committee Higher Education Grant Review Committee Legacy and Budget Stabilization Fund Advisory Board Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Compact Commission Midwestern Higher Education Commission Multistate Highway Transportation Agreement Cooperating Committee National Conference of Insurance Legislators North Dakota Early Childhood Education Council North Dakota Lottery Advisory Commission School of Medicine and Health Sciences Advisory Council Special Road Committee State Board of Agricultural Research and Education State Council for Interstate Adult Offender Supervision State Council for Interstate Juvenile Supervision State Council on Educational Opportunity for Military Children State Employees Compensation Commission State Hospital Governing Body State Information Technology Advisory Committee Statewide Longitudinal Data System Committee Streamlined Sales Tax Governing Board Streamlined Sales Tax State and Local Advisory Council Veterinary Medical Education Program Admissions Committee Yellowstone-Missouri Rivers Confluence Commission Source: http://www.legis.nd.gov/assembly/63-2013/committees
The Lawmaking Process Are there different committees for the House & Senate? Yes! There are separate standing committees and procedural committees for both the House and the Senate The committees are separate because the work they are conducting pertains to legislation under consideration by one of the specific houses Interim Committees Interim committees meet in between the general legislative sessions They are composed of members of both the House and the Senate Their purpose is largely educadtional
The Lawmaking Process Interim Committees (continued) Interim Committees… Discuss ideas for legislation to present in the next legislative session Are given updates from individuals involved in programs supported b y (or otherwise of interest to) the legislature Hear testimony from experts on topics of interest to the committee Provide an opportunity for everyday individuals to give comments to members of the committee “Between sessions, interim committees hold hearings, take testimony, and review information provided by the Legislative Council, state agencies, and interested parties as they consider alternative approaches to issues raised by studies. “ http://www.legis.nd.gov/legislative-management http://www.legis.nd.gov/legislative-management
The Lawmaking Process What do the various committees do? Is there overlap? The committees hold hearings, consider proposed legislation, and make recommendations on legislation to their chamber Each committee handles a limited range of subject matter (which can generally be gleaned from the committee’s name) Bills and resolutions are referred to a particular committee by the leader of the chamber The Speaker of the House assigns legislation to the House’s committees The President of the Senate (Lieutenant Governor) assigns legislation to the Senate’s committees
The Lawmaking Process Who serves on the committees? How is this decided? Legislators are “appointed” to serve on the various committees Legislators serving on the Appropriations Committee do not serve on any other standing committee (as this committee meets every day of the week during the general session) All other legislators (besides the Speaker of the House and majority/minority leaders) serve on two standing committees Majority of the legislature’s work is completed within the various standing committees Appointments to standing committees are made by the Committee on Committees (separate committees exist for the House and Senate, each dealing with appointments to the committees of their respective chambers) http://www.legis.nd.gov/research-center/library/legislative-branch-function-and- process
The Lawmaking Process What is the role of committees in screening bills and coming out with a DO pass or DO NOT pass recommendation? The committees hold public hearings Individuals are invited to provide testimony Committee members discuss the merits of proposed legislation, potential problems, the overall impact of the legislation’s passage/not passage, etc. Potential amendments to the bill or resolution are discussed and considered After all of this is concluded, committees vote on a recommended course of action that they present to their chamber (i.e. House committees make a report to the House, Senate committees make a report to the Senate)
The Lawmaking Process Committee reports on proposed legislation are summarized as either: 1) Do pass 2) Do not pass 3) Amend and do pass 4) Amend and do not pass 5) Without recommendation Once the committee process is completed, the legislation is reported back to the committees’ respective chamber Committees cannot “kill” bills or resolutions This isn’t the case in Congress All legislation considered by committees will have a vote on the floor of the respective chamber
The Lawmaking Process Often, both chambers of the legislature will pass similar, but not identical legislation Intent may be mostly the same, but wording different Sometimes, legislation passed by the two houses may be virtually opposites of one another This is more likely if different parties constitute majorities in the two houses (i.e. Republicans control the House, Democrats control the Senate)
The Lawmaking Process In order for legislation to be sent to the Governor’s office to be signed into law, both chambers of the legislature must pass identical pieces of legislation When similar, but different, laws have been passed by both chambers, the bills or resolutions will be discussed in a “conference committee” The conference committee is composed of six members Three members appointed by members of the House Three members appointed by members of the Senate Members of the conference committee are charged with merging common elements of the different pieces of legislation previously passed by each of the two chambers and reaching an agreement for language to be used in sections of the legislation that differ http://www.legis.nd.gov/research-center/library/legislative-branch-function-and- process
The Lawmaking Process When do committees meet? Do they meet outside of the normal legislative session? During the legislative session, committees meet at a regularly scheduled time and place at the state capital building in Bismarck Interim committees meet in between legislative sessions, and their location may vary for each meeting
The Lawmaking Process Legislative Management Was originally established in 1945 as the “Legislative Research Committee” Composed of 17 legislators, including: Majority and Minority Leader of the Senate and the House Speaker of the House Six Senators (4 appointed by majority leader, 2 by minority leader) Six Representatives (4 appointed by majority leader, 2 by minority leader” Legislative Management meets after each session to determine what studies will be conducted during the interim session, which interim committees will be in charge of each study, and which interim committees legislators will serve on (each legislator serves on at least one)
The Lawmaking Process Some interim committees are created by statute Examples: Higher Education Funding Committee Employee Benefits Programs Committee Legislative Ethics Committee Other committees may be created by Legislative Management http://www.legis.nd.gov/legislative-management
The Lawmaking Process What role can you play in the committees’ processes? Testifying What does it mean to testify? What’s the purpose of testifying? How do you testify? What do you say? What do you do? What kind of information are legislators looking for?
“How to Testify Before a North Dakota Legislative Committee” Provided by the North Dakota Legislature; accessible at: http://www.legis.nd.gov/general-information: http://www.legis.nd.gov/general-information “You have the right… You have the right, as do all citizens, to testify before the North Dakota Legislative Assembly on any bill or resolution. North Dakota has one of the most open legislatures in the nation. Every bill must have a public hearing before a legislative committee, must be publicly voted upon by the committee, and then must come before the full House or Senate for still another public vote. Your opportunity to testify on a bill comes at the committee hearing Legislative committees meet in rooms on the ground floor or in the legislative wing of the State Capitol. You can come into a committee meeting at any time, even if the door is closed or a hearing is in progress.”
“How to Testify Before a North Dakota Legislative Committee” Continued (Source: http://www.legis.nd.gov/general-information ):http://www.legis.nd.gov/general-information “Lists of the legislative committees, committee members, and the days and places committees meet are available on this website and at legislative information kiosk in the hall between the Senate and House chambers. Committee hearing schedules are available on this website and at the legislative information can be viewed on the monitors by the information kiosk and in the hall of the ground floor at the Capitol. Most current versions of bills and amendments are available on this website. You can also get copies of bills from the Bill and Journal Room. However, if the bill has been amended, the printed bill may not include the amendments. Hearings Before North Dakota Legislative Committees Are Generally Informal and Few Rules Need Be Observed!”
“How to Testify Before a North Dakota Legislative Committee” Continued (Source: http://www.legis.nd.gov/general-information ):http://www.legis.nd.gov/general-information “Before the Hearing You Should… Find out when and where your bill will be heard. Be on time for the hearing. Usually, once a hearing is closed on a particular bill, no further testimony is heard. Plan your testimony. It is not necessary, but it is helpful, to have written copies of your comments available. See if other persons will be testifying on your bill. If so, try to coordinate your testimony before the hearing to avoid duplication. Contact the Secretary of State’s office if you are going to testify on behalf of anyone but yourself to see if you must register as a lobbyist.”
“How to Testify Before a North Dakota Legislative Committee” Continued (Source: http://www.legis.nd.gov/general-information ):http://www.legis.nd.gov/general-information “At the Hearing You Should… Be present at the start of the hearing. All persons present usually get a chance to speak, but sometimes because of large turnouts it is not possible to give everyone a chance to speak. If you do not get a chance to testify, your presence may be acknowledged and you might be asked if you favor or oppose the bill. Also, you can always submit written testimony. Sign the witness sheet at the lectern. Give the bill number, whether you favor or oppose the bill, your name, your lobbyist registration number if you have one, and who you represent if other than yourself. Wait your turn. The chairman announces the beginning of the hearing on a particular bill. The clerk will read the bill. The first speaker is usually the bill’s sponsor. The chairman then asks for testimony first from proponents and then opponents Plan on following the custom (although it is not absolutely necessary) of beginning your remarks by addressing the chairman and committee members, giving your name and address, and why you are there. For example: “Mr. or Madam Chairman and members of the committee, my name is John Q. Public from Edwinton. I’m in favor of this bill because, etc.””
“How to Testify Before a North Dakota Legislative Committee” Continued (Source: http://www.legis.nd.gov/general-information ):http://www.legis.nd.gov/general-information “Be brief. Do not repeat what others have said. The hearings are informal so be conversational. Avoid being too technical. Avoid using acronyms or technical references unless you first explain what they mean. Do not be nervous or worried about doing something wrong. There are no “rights and wrongs” about testifying. Legislators are just your friends and neighbors who want to hear what you have to say. Expect some questions and comments from committee members. These questions are not designed to embarrass you but merely to provide additional information. Avoid any clapping, cheering, booing, or other demonstrations.”
“How to Testify Before a North Dakota Legislative Committee” Continued (Source: http://www.legis.nd.gov/general-information ):http://www.legis.nd.gov/general-information After the Hearing… Some committees vote right after a hearing. Others wait until the end of the meeting. Some postpone voting until another meeting. All committee action is public so you can stay to listen to committee debate and its vote even though public comment portion of the hearing is over. One or two days later you can check with the committee clerk, your legislator, or the legislative information kiosk to find out how the committee voted on your bill.
Review: How bills become law (example slide) Writing the bill Who was involved in writing the example bill? Selecting sponsors Who did they choose to sponsor the bill? Why? What steps were involved in the process? Introduction Which chamber was it introduced Committee hearings What committee did it go to? Why? Who testified? What information did they provide to the legislators?
Review: How bills become law (example slide) Votes in the House & Senate Was this the margin what had been expected? What happened once the bill was passed? Signed by the governor Explain: did the sponsors have the governor’s support prior? What role did the governor’s office play? When did the bill go into effect?
Strategy A lot happens between the time an organization decides they would like to author a piece of legislation and the time that the legislation is signed into law Organizations should develop an overall strategy to increase the likelihood that they are successful in accomplishing their goals In developing a strategy, there are a few areas that organizations may benefit from considering Volume Compromise Message Carriers
Strategy– Determining Your Volume When your group is attempting to change policy, what do you want the volume of your message to be? What sort of presence would you like to establish? Loud and public? Quiet, behind-the-scenes? The public doesn’t hear about the vast majority of legislation that is passed every session Why?
Strategy– Determining Your Volume The media can only share a limited amount of information Newspapers have a finite amount of space TV news stations have a finite amount of time The media needs to make a determination of what is “newsworthy” What stories do they have an ethical obligation to tell? What stories will interest people? Which stories will be beneficial to their ratings/readership? Items determined newsworthy become a part of the news Other items remain hidden from the public eye Do you want your legislation to be newsworthy?
Strategy– Determining Your Volume Situations when you would want your legislation to be newsworthy: When political pressure is necessary The legislature is not, nor can it ever be, a body perfectly representative of the citizenry There may be a discrepancy between the public’s opinion on proposed legislation and the view of legislators Sometimes, this means that, while a strong majority of the public may be supportive of a piece of legislation, there exists only a minority of legislators in support In cases such as this, legislators may need pressure from their constituents and other citizens in order to be swayed The more newsworthy the legislation becomes, the more engaged the public will be and the easier it will be for your organization to mobilize supporters to contact their legislators
Strategy– Determining Your Volume When awareness of the law’s existence is important in it of itself If legislation isn’t newsworthy, most people won’t know that a given law has changed Example: law mandating use of seat belts What was the purpose of the law? To minimize the amount of injuries and fatalities caused by automobile accidents by mandating the use of seatbelts How is the law enforced? Police officers on traffic patrol Is the law enforced well? It’s impossible to “catch” most individuals violating the law If an individual chooses not to wear their seatbelt, there is onl a small chance that they will be spotted by an officer and cited for the violation. Similar to other traffic violations, such as rolling through a stop sign in a residential community, most of the time, violators will not be cited If the law isn’t enforced well, how can you improve the likelihood of the legislation’s purpose being accomplished?
Strategy– Determining Your Volume When awareness of the law’s existence is important in it of itself (continued) By making legislation newsworthy, you can increase awareness of the underlying issue that the legislation is designed to address Using the seatbelt example, when the law was being discussed in the news, the public became: More aware that the law was going to be passed and the penalties associated with violating it Familiarized with statistics related to the number of fatalities that could have been prevented had seatbelts been worn Exposed to several tragedies that could have been prevented by the use of seatbelts Each of the above points increase the likelihood that individuals will change their behavior The PR opportunity that can come with the passage of legislation can be very important to advancing an organization’s cause
Strategy– Determining Your Volume When strengthening the brand of an organization is important Having a piece of legislation passed is a major accomplishment that could boost the credibility/level of public knowledge of your organization
Strategy– Determining Your Volume When may you wish to avoid making your legislation newsworthy? When the bill is making minor changes to existing legislation Sometimes, problems with a piece of legislation will only be revealed after it has been passed and its implementation has begun Legislation which changes aspects of existing policy that relate to basic procedural or implementation issues may be able to garner a sufficient level of support from legislators relatively easily This is especially true if the legislation’s sponsor ensures the focus remains on the procedural or implementation issues, and not the question of whether or not the previously-passed legislation should exist Making this type of legislation newsworthy may threaten the likelihood of the legislation being passed Since this legislation is designed just to address minor issues with the original policy, you may want to avoid rehashing the issue of the original policy– especially if it was controversial Significant media attention is likely to do this, particularly if opposing politicians view it as a way to score easy political points (think of the example of Obamacare in Congress)
Strategy– Determining Your Volume When may you wish to avoid making your legislation newsworthy? When the purpose of the bill could be easily “spun” If the purpose of the legislation could be easily “spun” by political opposition hoping to score a victory, a quieter approach may be preferred to avoid the threat posed by political gamesmanship This is especially true if you are confident that you already have the support of legislators that you need to pass the legislation
Strategy: Compromise You should be prepared to “give” on portions of your bill, especially if it is controversial If your bill has more room for compromise, it may be easier to garner support from legislators looking for “give and take” If your bill has too much room for compromise, it may be viewed from the start as too extreme and not given the consideration you are hoping for
Strategy: Message What kind of public dialogue are you hoping to encourage? Once you have answered this question, a simple way to develop your basic message is to create an “elevator pitch” If you meet somebody in an elevator that asks you about your legislation, you might have about 30 seconds to describe it to them What would you say in those 30 seconds? What are the most important elements of the legislation? What is the goal of the legislation? What do you want the takeaway of the 30-second conversation to be? The legislation should be written to match the message you are trying to send to the public
Strategy: Message Talking points should be established that are consistent with the legislation Why is this important? Remember: if you do not set the tone for the public dialogue on your legislation, somebody else will If you don’t frame the message, it may be your opposition that does Since the framing of the message can greatly impact the outcome of your efforts, this must be a priority
Strategy: Carriers Who do you want to be the carrier of your message? Legislators? Interest Groups? Concerned citizens? Lobbyists? What’s the difference?
Strategy: Carriers Questions to ask: Who are the people best positioned to make the case for your legislation? Is the issue political in a way that would position a political party (and legislators belonging to that party) to present the legislation? Are there interest groups, well-known to the public, who would make strong partners on the legislation? Have you identified any citizens whose personal background (their “story”) would make them a strong advocate for your legislation? Does your organization know any lobbyists whose professional experience, and political networks, would enable them to be a particularly effective message carrier?
Strategy: Carriers The individuals and groups that you select to carry your legislation’s message are critical They will become the face of your legislation You want to ensure that the face of your legislation is consistent its spirit The face of your legislation should be a person that will be received favorably by the public
Advocacy How does a normal citizen influence policymakers? Many different techniques Examples: Emails/letters to policymaker Meeting with legislators Petitions Letters to the editor
Advocacy: Emails/letters to policymakers Interest groups have, for a long time, used “letter-writing campaigns” to exert pressure on elected officials How it works: Interest groups have certain goals that they are trying to accomplish Interest groups have lists of members/other individuals whose goals may align with the group’s When an opportunity for the group to advance its goals presents itself– say, a piece of legislation related to the goal is under consideration by the Legislative Assembly– the interest group may mobilize its members by organizing a “letter- writing campaign”
Advocacy: Emails/letters to policymakers How it works (continued): They begin by notifying their members/supporters of the issue at hand, and why they should care about it Next, they ask the supporter to contact their elected official and urge them to take a certain stance on the issue
Advocacy: Emails/letters to policymakers Strategy The group could provide the supporter with a prewritten letter (a letter template) that only requires a signature This is less genuine Elected officials (or, more likely, their staff) may be less swayed by a flurry of identical, professionally written letters than they would be by personally written ones Providing supporters with pre-written letters may result in a larger volume of letters being submitted, but the value of each will be less than if they were personally written letters
Advocacy: Emails/letters to policymakers Strategy Personally-Written Letters While more genuine than templates, there are significant disadvantages of this approach as well Because it takes more time to draft a letter than to merely write your signature on one, the volume of personally-written letters submitted will be smaller than if prewritten letters were provided An organization’s communications staff is likely able to compose a stronger letter than t he average citizen They will know exactly what to include in the letter (applicable facts, history of the issue, etc.) They will know how to style the letter
Advocacy: Emails/letters to policymakers Strategy Personally-Written Letters If an organization chooses not to provide prewritten letters to its members, they should take steps to mitigate these disadvantages Options can include providing supporters with: A list of key “talking points”, including basic arguments along with any particularly compelling data The name and contact information for the office of the supporter’s elected official An example of a letter used for another issue so that the supporter has something to go off of when drafting their own Supplies, such as a stamp and envelope
Advocacy: Emails/letters to policymakers Modern technology has simplified this process quite a bit Emails can now be used for citizens to contact elected officials in a manner similar to letters Much easier for groups to mobilize supporters Rather than contacting them via phone calls or snail-mail, they can send out an email blast in an instant They can also utilize social media to create a buzz around a topic of interest, and spread their message beyond their core group of supporters
Advocacy: Emails/letters to policymakers Similarly, interest groups can organize a phone-call campaign to accomplish similar goals Phone calls are another methods groups can use to gain the attention of policymakers Rather than organizing supporters to write/send letters to elected officials, groups push them to make phone calls This method may be harder for elected officials (particularly their staff) to ignore It’s easy to ignore a barrage of emails, but harder to ignore persistent phone ringing Some supporters may see this as a quicker opportunity to advocate for an issue than drafting a letter Other supporters may be intimidated by the idea
Advocacy: Emails/letters to policymakers What should you include in a letter? A brief description of the issue you are concerned about An explanation of why this issue represents a problem (tell the elected official specifically why this issue matters to them, that is, why they should be concerned about it too) A statement of what you would like the elected official to do Why are you sending them this letter? Is it for them to take a certain stance on an upcoming vote? Are you asking for them to introduce new legislation? Lay out what you envision to be the solution to the problem you previously described, and explain what role you would like to see the elected official play in making that solution a reality
Advocacy: Emails/letters to policymakers Other comments about drafting letters to elected officials: Be respectful and courteous, even if you disagree with the policymaker or are upset with them for previous actions Behaving in any other manner will accomplish little beyond diminishing your credibility and damaging your capability to influence them Use professional language– make sure you use proper grammar, correct spelling, etc. Make sure to include your name, title (if applicable), and contact information Note: during this section, the phrase “interest groups” was used to reference the group organizing the letter-writing campaign. Remember that it doesn’t necessarily take a formal interest group, or even an organized group at all, to conduct a letter-writing campaign. A group o concerned citizens can be just as capable at organizing the effort as a formal interest group.
Advocacy: Meeting with legislators Potentially the most effective way to get your message across is through a physical, face-to-face meeting with your legislator Why is this effective? You can communicate a lot of information in a 30-minute meeting Any questions that your legislator may have can be answered by you right away Taking the time to set up a meeting with your legislators shows him/her that you truly care about the issue
Advocacy: Meeting with legislators How do you set up a meeting with your legislator? The best way to do it is probably to call or email them Introduce any topics to them that you are interested in discussing Provide them with context for the discussion in advance Explain exactly why you would like to meet, and propose possible times Remember that during the legislative session, your legislator has a busy schedule– meeting with constituents should be an important component of that schedule, but it isn’t the only one and you may have to be flexible on time During session, your legislator will also be spending most of his or her time in Bismarck, so this may be where you will have to meet with them Outside of legislative sessions, remember that your legislator may also have a full- time job and many other obligations, so be understanding if they aren’t able to meet with you right away
Advocacy: Meeting with your legislator Additional notes about meeting with your legislator… Dress professionally– this will boost your credibility Bring printouts with any information that you want your legislator to take away from their meeting Printout may include key figures, historical context of the issue, etc. Plan out, in advance, the points you would like to discuss– this will maximize the value of the meeting for both you and the legislator
Advocacy: Petitions Petitions are a great way to capture the opinions of citizens in a tangible form How it works: Organizers draft a petition explaining the issue of concern (theh problem) and a proposed course of action (the solution) that signers of the petition are expressing support for Next, organizers should set a goal for how many signatures they would like to collect The collection of signatures can take place through a variety of methods Examples may include tabling at high-traffic areas (such as on college campuses), having a booth at the state fair, or having volunteers walking around at a tailgate
Advocacy: Petitions The collection of signatures can take place through a variety of methods (continued) Circulating online petitions This has been a very popular method for groups to utilize since the birth of the internet Even the White House has a platform for citizens to create petitions and collect signatures If a petition reaches an established number of signatures, the White House says they will issue a response Many free websites exist for citizens to circulate online petitions Examples include iPetitions (http://www.ipetitions.com/) and Change.org (http://www.change.org/petition)http://www.ipetitions.com/http://www.change.org/petition Online petitions may be easier to organize than print petitions Easier to reach a large population virtually than in person An email sent to an organization’s list of supporters, or a link shared on Facebook may amount in the petition receiving a large amount of signatures more quickly than if the petition was circulated in person
Advocacy: Petitions Once the group has reached their signature goal (or the end of their timeline), they can present the petition to the applicable policymakers Groups can also share the petition with media outlets to obtain free publicity for their cause, and to boost public awareness This is an important aspect of the petition process These type of petitions are not just about collecting signatures They are also about giving groups an opportunity to talk to citizens about a certain issue and bringing attention to that issue
Advocacy: Letters to the Editor Flip through your local newspaper until you reach the opinion section and you’re sure to find several letters to the editor covering a variety of topics Usually, they have to do with some sort of political issue Some are in regard to an article published by that newspaper Others may come in response to another letter to the editor that had been previously published in the newspaper Letters to the editor (LTEs) are a medium for everyday citizens to have their voice heard What many people do not realize, however, is that plenty of the LTEs appearing on the opinion page of your newspaper may not have been written by the person whose name appears at the bottom
Advocacy: Letters to the Editor Political parties, candidates, and interest groups all can benefit if they are able to influence the public dialogue To help steer the conversation, they strive to fill the opinion pages with as much content favorable to their cause as possible Often, staff members for these groups will draft letters to the editor in various styles and including different content, and then find others to sign the letter and submit it to the newspaper in their name Why is this beneficial to the group? They can control the content appearing in the letter The content is favorable The message comes through a medium that appears to be “grassroots”, which may have more sway with the general public
Advocacy: Letters to the Editor What do you include in a Letter to the Editor? LTEs are short– most newspapers set a limit for submissions in the neighborhood of 250 words– so you need to be very concise with your message Begin by opening the letter with a basic salutation; if you are referencing an article or letter that ran in a previous issue, be sure to cite it here (title of article, page number, and date) Get your reader’s attention If a reader is trying ton flip through the entire newspaper in their 5-minute breakfast before they leave for work, they scan (or entirely skip) most articles Include something at the beginning of your letter that captures the readers attention Describe what the subject of the letter is (and why it’s important!) and provide any necessary background/content: What topic are you writing this letter in regard to? Why is this topic relevant now as opposed to last month? Has something happened recently that the reader needs to be made aware of? What information do you have to share on the subject?
Advocacy: Letters to the Editor What do you include in a Letter to the Editor? Take a stance on the issue You aren’t just writing to inform the reader You are writing in the hopes that you can influence the way they think about a certain issue Before you can do that, you need to tell the reader how you feel about the issue! If you are writing to praise or express support for someone/something, do it now If you are writing to criticize or express opposition to someone/something, do it now! Remember: whenever you express an opinion, make to explain why your stance is justified Propose a solution If you aren’t satisfied with the status quo, then what do you think should be done to improve it?
Advocacy: Letters to the Editor What do you include in a Letter to the Editor? If you have a professional or general life experience which lends you particular credibility on the issue you are writing about, be sure to mention it! This will enhance your ability to share your message Be sure to add a title to your letter If you do not add one, they will create one for you! The more control you can have over your piece, the better Emphasize: Letters to the Editor are short! If you go beyond the newspaper’s word limit, they may still run the piece in its entirety. However, it’s also very likely that they will take one of two other routes, neither of which are favorable 1) Not run your piece at all 2) Run your piece, but cut parts of it to make it fit the word limit They won’t spend time identifying the best place in the piece to make cuts, so this process could damage your piece (it may hurt the “flow” of the piece, it could remove a critical part of your argument, etc.) Neither of these options is ideal Takeaway: stay within the word limit
Advocacy: Letters to the Editor What do you include in a Letter to the Editor? Letters to the editor must have your name on them Most newspapers will not run anonymous letters to the editor in order to promote the spirit of public debate If you are going to be provided a platform to make your arguments or attacks, you need to associate your name with them Where do you send them? The easiest way to submit a letter to the editor is online, though you can also physically mail in a letter to the editor Mailing address, applicable email address, or page for online submission can be easily found on the website of most newspapers, or on the opinion page When do you send them? If a newspaper decides to run a letter, it will usually appear in the paper within a few days of your submission Send in your letter while the issue you are writing about is still relevant (if in regard to an article run by the newspaper, submit your letter within just a couple of days)
Advocacy: Summary Methods covered: Emails/Letters to policymakers Meeting with your legislator Petitions Letters to the editor These are NOT the only ways that an individual or group can advocate for an issue they care about Many other methods of communicating your message and having influence on the policymaking process exist Find the methods that work for your organization and take advantage of them
Bringing it back into focus Not every leader in the nursing community is going to be engaged in the legislative process That’s ok The legislature is not the only group tasked with developing the policies that have an impact on our lives Other examples can range from your local school board to a community foundation Working through these organizations may allow a leader to make a significant impact How does this apply to the other content that has been covered in this presentation?
Bringing it back into focus If you have an understanding of how you can make an impact in the legislative process, then you can also make an impact in other areas of policymaking All of the tools and processes that have been covered can be applied outside of the legislative process Identifying problems Crafting solutions Marketing Gathering support Advocacy
Bringing it back into focus As individuals, nurses have the potential to be incredibly influential Nursing is the most trusted industry in the country With that trust comes an ability to influence others If there is an issue that you care about, you have a unique ability to help others understand why they should care about it as well How do I get involved?
Bringing it back into focus First, what issues are you particularly passionate about? Examples: Healthcare Child safety Education Conservation
Bringing it back into focus Next, what kind of groups/government organizations are working the issues that are important to you? This list may include: Nonprofits Community foundations PTA School Board City Council Labor union
Bringing it back into focus How can I get involved with these groups/local government organizations? Many organizations, particularly local groups, are always looking for volunteers If you know somebody in an organization or community group that you are interested in becoming a part of, talk to them about how you can get involved If you don’t know anybody, ask around! Find a friend that might know one of the members Look on their website for a contact-person and make a call!
Bringing it back into focus Everybody has issues that they care about Everybody has opportunities through which they can make a differences Every citizen, especially those in the nursing profession, have an obligation to do what they can to make a positive difference By finding which organizations best align with the issues you care about, you can make that difference
Review: Learning Objectives At the beginning of the presentation, there were three key learning objectives. They were: Why should nurses be engaged/involved in the policy process? How can nurses influence the process? How can nurses make sure that their voices are heard?
Review: Learning Objectives Objective #1: Why should nurses be informed/engaged in the policymaking process? There are issues that you care about, and that you can have an impact on by getting involved in the process Nursing is the most trusted profession, and with that trust comes an obligation to bring attention to important issues of concern to the general public Just because you are not staying informed/engaged in the process, DOES NOT mean that others are not. Another way to put it: if you aren’t trying to make a difference (at any level, ranging from your neighborhood association to the state legislature), somebody else is, but it may not be the difference that you want to see. “The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”
Review: Learning Objectives Objective #2: How can nurses influence the process? Raising awareness of important issues Talk to your friends, family, and peers about the issues Share news stories on social media Write letters to the editor about things you care about Getting involved Join organizations, volunteer to serve on the boards of organizations you care about, get active with the PTA or your neighborhood association– do something! Write letters, send emails, or make calls to your legislator when relevant issues come up Meet with your legislator and lobby them on the issues you care about VOTE!
Review: Learning Objectives Objective #3: How can nurses make sure that their voices are heard? If you speak, your voice will be heard! Remember all of the different ways you can communicate your message Letters & emails Phone calls Social media Letters to the editor Newsletters Get other people involved! Your friends and family probably have similar values to you– that means that they likely care about the same issues you care about Share information with them, and get them engaged too! Two voices is louder than one (the more voices, the stronger the message)