19 July 2009

How A Bill Becomes A Law...

I have a quick trip to San Antonio scheduled for Monday morning to give a presentation to the leadership of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses on legislative process 101. I'm looking forward to it - I developed the presentation a few years ago and while the Constitution hasn't changed, a lot has happened in how legislative staff and members get their information.

If the technology in the room allows, I was thinking I'd pull a page from my wife's playbook (she teaches a family policy class) and show this video to demonstrate the basics:



I remember watching it Saturday mornings, sandwiched between Superfriends and Scooby Doo...

Of course there's a lot more to it. Thanks to the internet and social media, the way members and staff (particularly staff) find and process relevant information has changed dramatically since I was on the Hill. Websites and blogs are particularly important the 24 hours before a vote - issue "experts" are often very difficult to reach quickly, and the way the process works (particularly in the Senate) you may see a dozen different and substantive votes in a single day, sometimes with little notice. Lobbyists and constituents remain very important contributors to forming policy. However, if you know precisely where legislative staffers go to get credible information online, you can also have a strong influence on the process - all without leaving your laptop.

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