This post is the first in a series designed to give readers a few tools to begin becoming effective advocates for policy direction at the local, federal, and state level. This post focuses on the state level.
Generally, the process boils down to a few stages. However, the details of each process at the local, state, and federal level are quite different. Nonetheless, those who want to be effective advocates must master each of the following topics.
- How the legislative process works;
- Who your legislators are and the part they and their staff play;
- How to track legislation from inception to bill signing;
- How to choose, and execute, an advocacy strategy.
The Alaska Legislature’s website is a rich source for citizens wishing to understand the first three of these stages at the state level. Those wanting to become effective advocates will have to spend some hours becoming familiar with the information and tools that are available on this website. The Publications page provides more information than most can readily digest, but knowing what’s available on it will be a great help. Of particular interest is BASIS, the Bill Action Status Inquiry System. Here you can find details and status of legislation and links to send short messages to legislative sponsors and committees.
Having mastered the Legislature’s website, there is no better way to learn about the legislative process than to visit the capitol, watch some hearings, and stop in to see your own state representative or senator and their staff. Get to know them by listening to their concerns and make yourself known to them – as well as what your interests are, and what kind of help you might be to them.