The end of the legislative session is like the beginning of the new year for those of us who work in policy. On March 14, 2015 ended. On March 15, we started thinking about what we are going to accomplish in 2016.
Now is the time for you to start thinking about what are the issues you care about that didn’t get solved this year, what things you have noticed are working in other states that you’d love to see West Virginia try, and what bright ideas you want to bring to the Legislature!
All that work starts NOW. Not in the fall. Not next January. Now.
So let’s get started!
We’ve got a short list of things that you can do to share your suggestions and stay involved over the coming months. If you have ideas, suggestions or general rumblings of genius that you could use some help in refining towards a policy proposal call or email us! (681-404-6053; email@example.com)
Here’s what you can do:
1. Share with the Legislative Tech staff what they can do to improve the website and give you better access to the activity happening during the legislative session.
Aaron Allred, Legislative Manager and Legislative Auditor, is seeking suggestions on improvements for the website and live audio feed. We have some ideas:
- Post committee minutes after the meetings.
- Post all committee agendas at least 2 days prior to the meetings before Crossover Day and at least 24 hours prior to the meetings after Crossover Day).
- Provide live video feed of all public hearings and clearly indicate where those will be played on the front page of the website.
- Move from audio and video streaming to recording. Save audio and video recordings of committee meetings and floor sessions for at least a week and provide those on the website to watch after the meetings/sessions have ended.
- Create more consistency in committee meeting schedule updates on the committee pages; Bulletin Board and Streaming Audio page schedule. Often the schedules do not match up and are not consistent across these webpages.
- Improve sound quality on House floor session video feed (much quieter than the Senate floor session video feed).
- Allow for remote participation in public hearings, or possibly hold some public hearings as online forums so people can participate from across the state.
What do you think could be done to improve the website? Email Mr. Allred at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Hook up with The Hub and learn about work happening across the state that you can plug into!
The Hub is hosting its first Hubapalooza on April 30th of this year. This day-long event will bring together members of the community development network in West Virginia. Are you passionate about improving your community? Are you working to build a better community in some form? Would you like to be?
Join us on April 30th in Summersville to take the next step with us towards growing community development in West Virginia. Learn more and register at bit.ly/Hubapalooza2015
3. Engage in one of the many opportunities around the state available to help your community plan and implement improvement projects.
Improving policy is a key part of improving West Virginia communities, but it is only one part. Getting involved in your community and working to build solutions to the problems you face is part of your policy work. There are a number of resources available to West Virginia communities who want to start the work. What’s Next, West Virginia provides communities with the resources to get the conversation started. The WV Development Office’s On Trac and Main Street programs support sustained local development – you might have one of these programs in your community and not even know it. Find out if you do and join up to help them out if you can.
Are you passionate about an issue or want to help your community but aren’t sure where to start? Call us at The Hub and we’ll help you figure out what work is happening around you, what resources are available and what tools you can use to get good work started.
4. Participate in our Regional Policy Workshops this summer.
Each summer the Hub hosts Regional Policy Workshops across the state in partnership with the Our Children, Our Future Campaign to End Child Poverty. These workshops provide tons of training on how policy making works and how you can get involved as a regular citizen. This year we’re even looking to add a social media training, for those of you who are active online but can’t make it to the Capitol. There is real political space through social media that we should all make use of!
We also dive deeply into a number of policy issues. If you have issues you want to work on during next year’s session and would like the support of a statewide network that is focused on getting policy passed, this is the place to bring your idea to.
We meet across the state, generally in late July and early August. Watch your email for a Save the Date for these workshops in the next few weeks. And keep in touch with us if you are interested in participating in them!
5. Finally, be thinking!
Keep an eye on what troubles your community is facing. What solutions are people suggesting that you aren’t seeing be implemented?
Don’t worry about getting us involved if you know the issues, the solutions and key players. Reach out to your legislators this summer and start talking with them about the problems and your proposals. Work with them to build a solution together.
And if things get confusing, overwhelming or seem to stall call or email us!