Bad bills are introduced in state legislatures nearly every day. Whether in a state house or in the halls of Congress, lawmakers regularly write bills that restrict freedom, raise taxes and enact harmful regulations.
Often, special interests spend significant time and money trying to get these bad bills passed. But if you know the right techniques, you can take them on – and win.
Here are some tips and tricks from our Legislative Training program that you can use to make sure bad bills never become law.
Get Out in Front
The best time to kill a bill is before it even sees the light of day. If you know the issues lawmakers are planning to tackle during a legislative session, you can shape the discussion about the issue before there’s even a bill.
A preemptive strike is often enough to stop harmful legislation. By generating a lot of opposition to the idea, you can keep lawmakers from even submitting a bad bill.
Know the Process
It’s important to know the path a bill takes once it’s filed—what committees it needs to be approved by, what procedures the legislature takes and how the legislature votes. Your state website likely has information on how the process works.
Get Your Ducks in a Row
Take time to map out a potential coalition before engaging in the fight. Ask yourself what other groups would care about the issue or who else might be harmed.
If you’re fighting a corporate welfare bill that would hand out taxpayer dollars and free land to a big, out-of-state corporation, there are any number of potential allies.
Environmental groups might care about the land use. Local businesses might be concerned about unfair treatment and competition.
Families might care about misuse of their hard-earned tax-dollars.
Workers might be concerned about increased congestion.
You don’t have to agree on every issue, but you can still work together to defeat a bad idea.
Rally the Troops
There are countless ways your fellow activists can join the fight, from letters to the editor to office visits to patch-through phone banks. Organize your team and get to work!
Before you get started, make sure all of your activists are on the same page when it comes to messaging and tactics. Presenting a unified message will make you far more effective.
Committee hearings are a great place for you to show lawmakers the size of the opposition to their bad bill.
Pack the hearing with as many allies as you can. If possible, wear custom t-shirts and bring signs.
Don’t forget to have as many people as possible sign up to speak, too. Check out our recent blog poston effective public testimony for tips on how to make your point.
At the end of the day, remember that it doesn’t take a massive army of volunteers and hundreds of thousands of dollars to make a difference. All you need is a small group of passionate people who care deeply about the issue and are willing to put the work in.
For more tips on killing bad bills and effectively influencing your legislators, you can check out GLA’sLegislative Training program. Find out if the training is coming to a city near you here. For grassroots tips right in your inbox, sign up for our email list.