BY TAYLOR BENNETT, POLICY COORDINATOR, THE HUB
This week there is an air of calm attentiveness at the Capitol building as legislators, staff, citizens, and lobbyists get to work and watch for the issues that will become the center of focus for this legislative session.
Stress levels are relatively low, legislators are introducing their pet bills – ones that they felt strongly enough about to work on well before the start of the session; citizens and interest groups are seeking out legislative champions to support bills that top their priority lists.
Since the legislative process is a long and arduous one, some veterans of the system suggest introducing bills early, to give them time to make it through each chamber of the legislature.This seems like particularly good advice if you’re looking to build relationships with and educate legislators on your policy ideas.
To me, it seems important to begin conversations with legislators, both those who support your cause and – maybe especially those who don’t – early: before they begin to feel buried under the weight of the amount of work that needs to be completed in the last few weeks before the end of session.
Another reason starting early might be a good idea this year is that, while there are many familiar faces at the legislature, there are a number of new ones too. Even if your issue has been in front of a number of senators and delegates before, there are new legislators who may be seeing your issue for the first time. A perfect opportunity to build a collaborative relationship and share the information you’ve got.
Although I know that this week is quiet because it’s the calm before the storm, I can’t help but enjoy the opportunity to get my bearings and keep an eye out for what will rise to the top this year.