BY TAYLOR BENNETT, DIRECTOR OF COMMUNITY BASED POLICY, THE HUB
After policies pass through the legislative process and are either signed into law by the Governor or passively allowed to become the law (Questions? Check out our explainer), citizens may find it takes a while for the impact of those policies to be felt.
There are a few reasons for this:
- Some bills may not take effect immediately. The text of every bill includes a date on which it will take effect. Some are “effective from passage” meaning that they’ll be implemented immediately, while others will take effect on a later date that’s specified in the bill.
- Policies are made by legislators, but they are implemented by staff members–usually of a local government or state agency. It may take a while for staff members to get up to speed on all the changes that were made during the session.
- Some policies change pieces of a longer process, like the tax sale process or the adoption process. This means that if the piece of the process that was changed happens near the end of the process, it may take a long time for citizens to feel that change.
Here are three things you can do to influence the implementation of policy changes you care about:
- Gather more information about a policy’s implementation.
Other organizations and individuals who advocated for a policy change often have information about when bills will be implemented and who will be responsible for doing so.
- Reach out to whoever is in charge of putting the policy solution into practice.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to staff of state agencies and local governments. But do approach interactions with them from a place of curiosity and collaboration.
You might ask if they have heard about a bill that does something you’re excited about, or create an opportunity to learn together about how a bill related to the issue you care about will impact your community.
- Identify organizations supporting the people or issue the bill is designed to affect.
If a policy change impacts foster families, try reaching out to organizations that provide support to foster families. Ask if they’ve heard about the bill or know how and when it will impact those they support. You might also ask for their suggestions on how best you can support its implementation.
And remember, reaching out to those who are responsible for implementing policy changes can be beneficial, even if all you’re able to do is ask when citizens will be able to feel the impacts of it. Your ask lets implementors know that this policy change matters to citizens in your community.