Monday, October 25, 2010

NASW Embodies the Democratic Process

As November 2nd approaches I am reflecting not only on our Nation’s Democratic process but also the process our own Chapter uses to determine our legislative priorities.   Over the course of my tenure at NASW many people have asked how we determine the Chapter’s “Priority” Legislative and Budget Initiatives.  I thought I would share with you the very important process of making these decisions.

NASW’s Process for Selecting Priority Legislation and Budget Initiatives

  1. In September of the year preceding the start of the new legislative session, the Chapter’s Government Relations and Political Action staff polls the Chapter’s committees and the Board of Directors regarding their priority issues for the upcoming legislative session.   

  1. The Chapter’s Legislative Advocacy Committee (LAC) then reviews all suggestions and presents its recommendation for legislation and/or legislative topic areas to the Executive Director and then to the Board of Directors.

  1. The Board reviews the list and approves either all or part of the recommendation from the Legislative Advocacy Committee.

  1. Staff then compiles the final list of approved legislative priorities, identifies legislative sponsors of selected bills, and tracks these bills to determine docket/bill numbers and other coalition support.

Supporting Activities:

  • Staff or NASW member attends the bill’s hearing, testifies, and submits written testimony.  Additionally, staff works to identify members to testify and/or submit testimony at the hearing.

  • Chapter sends an email Action Alert to membership when bill’s hearing is approaching and identifies other ways to communicate with NASW members about the legislation, encouraging them to support the legislation in a variety of ways;
o       Contacting Legislators in person, by phone or email
o       Attending events that gather support for the bill

  • NASW’s support for the bill will be posted on the NASW website with a link to the Capwiz program so members can contact their rep or senator directly about the bill through the NASW MA website.
  • Staff and members participate in rallies and other public events supporting the bill.
  • Staff participates in coalitions to support the bill or budget initiative.

The Chapter’s process for identifying its legislative agenda is intentional, comprehensive and highly democratic.  We are proud of the system in place and we applaud our members for their participation!

Carol Trust

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