How To Adopt a Legislative Agenda
Whatever issue your chapter decides to work on, it is important that your entire group is on board with the issue. This is the first step of the process and it can be a divisive one. There may be people within your group who want to only focus on one issue and one issue only. If your larger group is interested in addressing this issue, great – but most groups will need to come to a consensus on what they are going to work on. Don’t let the single issue member shoehorn your group into a particular issue. Some people may drop out of the group after your issue is chosen. You can mitigate this by adopting a practice of consensus.
What is good legislation to choose?
Make sure you can address your issue on the state level.
There are a number of hot button issues that are at the forefront of many of our minds today. This could be immigration, defense spending, our country’s relationship to another country — all of these are noble issues to tackle, but some are better addressed on the federal level. Your group wants to tackle an issue that is important to Pennsylvania. Furthermore, the legislation pertinent to this issue needs to come from Harrisburg, not Washington. Choosing an attainable goal now will save you lots of time in the end. Consult with your (or a) PASLAN adviser if you have questions about whether your legislative goals are well suited for state level politics.
Is there legislation already pending?
Is there already a bill out there to advocate for?
With a little research, and the help of your PASLAN adviser, you can determine whether or not there is already legislation pending that addresses your concerns. Your group may want to only focus on legislation that already exists, as this will be much easier and give you a greater chance of success. If your legislation already exists, it’s important that your group review the wording and determine if you would like to add or remove certain aspects of the proposed legislation. This may be a different process from drafting your own legislation, but could be equally rewarding. It will also help you understand certain aspects of the legislative process you might not get when you choose to draft your own legislation.
Who are your stakeholders?
What community groups already exist that you can leverage to help you?
It’s important in any legislative campaign to identify who would be most effected (good and bad) by your legislation. PASLAN hopes that the legislation you propose will net a greater number of people positively influenced by your bill than negative, but there are always going to be critics and opposition of any legislation you propose. It’s important to know who you will be able to reach out to in your community to help you in your campaign. If you are drafting your own legislation, these groups can be critical for helping you understand the issues and can even help you in the drafting process.