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  • Reinette Senum

How Our Laws Are Made & Where YOU Can Participate

I was asked a few days ago to expound on the flowchart How Our Laws Are Made that I shared during my Indivisible Women presentation at The Foundry, Nevada City, on Sunday, February 26th. We had approximately 600-or-so wonder-women show up that day, ready to get their game on!

When it comes to being effective and efficient, it is critical for us to understand where we play a part in the law-making process.

Don't let this flowchart overwhelm you. Keep coming back to it and simply get familiar with it. It’s empowering to understand how Washington works.

1. When you first hear about a bill being considered, try to find out where it is in this process before getting too worked up (in other words, pick your battles wisely). Is this the Second Reading where amendments are made and passed, or is this the Third Reading where the debate ends, and the Chair Calls for a Vote?

2. The most important thing to remember is that only 14% of all bills introduced ever pass (We learned this when Congressman LaMalfa's and staff met with us).

3. Notice where there is a red hand in this flowchart? This is where a bill can be tabled, fail, or be sent back to committee.

4. Also, pay attention to the little guy with his hand in the air in this flowchart. THIS is where WE can interject ourselves within the law-making process.

This is where WE can lobby, petition, give public input, call, email, and, yes, even undertake (peaceful) direction action. This is where WE can make a difference by trying to get a bill rejected or pushed through.

If We The People really want to effect change we must show up in the process. We must become our own lobbyist. If not US then WHO?


Data from "How Laws Are Made" by John V. Sullivan. Rev. 6.24.07


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