How To Support
“I am not an expert on every issue. So, I look to constituents as my field of experts. If you have a specific knowledge, skill, or lived experience, share that with your legislator and offer your assistance with reviewing and drafting legislation and policy.”
— Pennsylvania State Representative, Donna Bullock
We hope that the information shared here serves as a guide for you to learn about policy options in your state. For this reason, we have developed this resource to provide ideas on what can be done right now to address the issues that resonate deeply with you and your community. The following are steps to support public policy reform at the state level. While this list is numbered, it is not a fixed sequence – all policy reform efforts are different!
1. Identify a Problem
- Select a specific problem that you want to address (remember to make sure it is something that can be addressed at the state-level).
- Analyze why the problem needs to be addressed and the cost of inaction.
- Find research/statistics that explain the problem.
- Find personal stories/anecdotes that “humanize” the problem.
2. Identify a Policy Solution
- Determine a policy solution.
- Determine whether this policy solution is best implemented through a bill or something else (e.g. constitutional amendment, ballot initiative, administrative rule, executive order).
- Analyze how the policy solution would address the problem and who would be most affected by it.
- Find additional research/statistics that support your solution.
- Determine whether this policy solution has been attempted in your state in the past, and if so, investigate why it was not fully enacted or implemented.
3. Find Supporters and Allies
- Identify and work with current advocates in this space.
- Build relationships with or join issue allies (including adjacent advocacy groups).
- Identify neutral groups who may have influence over the solution and determine tactics for moving these groups from neutral to support.
4. Work with State Policymakers
- Understand the state policymaking process, including the bill process, budget process, important session dates, and relevant legislative committees and leadership for your bill topic.
- Build relationships with state policymakers.
- Provide public testimony (written and oral).
5. Increase Public Awareness
- Educate yourself and others about the “herstory” behind the issue (for example, see this reproductive justice framework from SisterSong).
- Use social media to connect your network to this issue.
- Draft op-eds and letters to the editor for local newspapers, and remember to highlight legislative champions.
- Join a rally or town hall event (even a tele-town hall).
- Stay safe during direct actions and protests and know your rights as a protestor.