Its surprising how much you can accomplish if you don't care who gets the credit
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To email your Arizona lawmakers, either all of them or just some of the ones you select, Arizona Legislature is a list of all lawmakers with emails and phone numbers. If you know who you want to email, the formula is always the first email@example.com. Example: For Joe Blow it would be firstname.lastname@example.org.
WORKING WITH THE STATE LEGISLATURE
Phoenix Legislative Action Plan (P.L.A.N.) phoenix.gov/plan has good info to know to work with the legislature.
How to find your Legislator: azleg.gov and then click on House or Senate tab and then Members. Rule of thumb: every legislator with a couple of exceptions uses their first initial and last name @ azleg.gov Example: Michelle Ugenti is email@example.com The exception to this rule is anyone with the last name of Smith. Look them up.
Official State website: azleg.gov
What you can find there:
*the names and contact info for all elected House and Senate members
*Legislative Council also referred to as Leg Council, the group of 3 lawyers who review each bill for legal conformity
*The Arizona Constitute and Arizona Statues in the Legislative Council tab
*All Bills currently being considered
*Committees including the Chairs, co-chair and sitting members; good to know if you are interested in a particular Bill and want to speak to the right people
*ALIS This is a great way to track what is going on with different bills, tuning into live streaming of hearings on the bills, Request to speak in real time on the proceedings (more on this later)
*And more. Just go to the site and click on tabs and links to learn how much you can find out about our working government at any given time. This is a must for anyone truly interested in what is happening in AZ.
State Legislature begins the second Monday of January. They try to finish in 100 days. Sometimes, that actually happens!
Makeup of the Legislature:
*The Senate has 30 members, 1 per each Legislative District in Arizona. A simple majority vote is needed to pass most Bills and that is 16 votes. Some votes require 2/3 vote which is 20 votes to pass. These are issues of great import such as changing the State Constitution, calling a Special Session if the Governor doesn't, etc., and is not done lightly.
*The House has 60 members, 2 per Legislative District. A simple majority vote is 31 votes and the same rules apply to the House as to the Senate.
*Terms are 2 years with a 4 term limit.
*Annual salaries are $24,000. They cannot vote themselves a raise. That comes from a vote of the people and most of these initiatives fail at the ballot box. We get the government we deserve.
Senate President, Senate Majority Leader, Majority Whip
Secondary Leadership: Minority Leader, Assistant Minority Leader, Minority Whip1
Speaker of the House, Majority Leader, Majority Whip
Secondary Leadership: Minority Leader, Assistant Minority Leader, Minority Whip1
1These people are responsible for gathering votes to support or oppose a given Bill. The hardest and
highly important job in the Legislature
How a Bill becomes Law:
*Each session, the Legislature considers from 1000-1500 new Bills. Only 300-450 make it through the process and are voted on, up or down (something to be thankful for).
*The process: How a Bill becomes a law
In the House: 1. A member introduces a Bill, often called "drops a Bill." Most of these Bills are crafted between Sessions, in the summer and fall before the new session starts in January. 2. The Speaker refers the Bill to the appropriate Standing Committee(s) for vetting and consideration. The Speaker can refuse to refer a Bill at his discretion. 3. If the Bill makes it through Committee, it goes to the rules Committee/Legislative Council to check for appropriate legal language, Constitutionality, etc. Rules makes a recommendation to the Sponsor whether to push it forward, re-write it or stop it. 4. The Bill goes to the Committee of the Whole, called COW. The COW is made up of the entire body of the House. This is where good Bills go to get amended or live or die and bad Bills seem to live on! This is the time in the process when the public can attend and request to speak. If the Bill survives this process of consideration, it goes to a Roll Call Vote where it is passed or failed. Bills that pass go to the Senate.
In the Senate: 1. Actions 1-4 above hold true for the Senate as well except it is the Senate President how controls the Bill at the outset. 2. After the Roll Call, an amended Bill goes back in its amended form to the House for another vote.2 If the amended version of the Bill passes the House, it goes to the Governor for action (see below). If the Bill passes the Senate without amendments, it goes to the Governor who has 5 days to (a) sign it into law; (b) refuse to sign it into law; or (c) ignore it and let it become law without a signature.
2If the amended Bill is rejected by the House, the Bill goes to Conference Committee made up of 3 members of each the House and Senate with the majority party having a 2-1 margin from each body. This is where the Bill is hashed out and a resolution is reached or if not, it dies. The new amended bill passes out of Conference and then goes back to both House and Senate for final vote. If it passes both bodies, it goes to the Governor for signature and the method above described is in effect. Any reasonable person can assume that a degree of maneuvering and posturing takes place behind the scenes where deals are struck to get passage.
Bills can be introduced in the House as early as November until Session begins. After that, seven additional Bills can be introduced for the current session. In the Senate, new Bills can be introduced until February. Senate Bills are numbers 1000+ and House Bills are numbered 2000+. Example: Senate Bill may get a number of 1004 or 1112; House Bills would get 2004 or 2112.
*Strike Everything, sometimes called a Striker Bill: When a Legislator has a Bill without a number, they can tag it on to another unrelated bill that has a number but is unlikely to pass or is dead. The Bill number becomes something different from what it started out to be and can go through procedure in its new intent.
Tracking a Bill on ALIS (Arizona Legislative Information System)
On the azleg.gov site, you can keep up with streaming Hearings, Meetings, Floor Actions and other activities. You need to be registered on ALIS. You do this ONLY at the Capitol in the House or Senate Buildings. Once you sign up, you can use your username and password to access these sections of the site and also participate from your own home in the action. You can do this by using the Request to Speak tab under the photo of the Capitol Dome on the azleg.gov Home page. If you plan to attend a Hearing or Meeting in person and want to speak, you can sign up the day before online using your ALIS account. This takes some learning curve but you can really be part of the process of our state government and we encourage you to take advantage of ALIS.
Being a citizen lobbyist:
This is an effective way to help your Legislators know how you feel on Bills and it is our civic duty to tell our lawmakers what we think. How else are they supposed to know. And they WANT to hear from you. But it's best if you can be effective. Some suggestions:
Contact other stakeholders for support at the Legislature, those who would have the same views as you do. This lets the Legislator know that there is a groundswell of support for your views
Speak with those who take the opposite view from yours, try to find common ground so that you can create a win-win situation with a bit of compromise
Speak to Legislative Staff at the Capitol. These are the people who are closest to the Bills and often know more about them than the Sponsors or other Legislators. Help them understand what you want and they will likely help you get it.
Contact the Governors office well in advance of the Bill making its way through the legislature. Once the Governor gets the Bill, there is only five days to take action so getting your message to the Governor as soon as you can reasonably expect the Bill to get through the process gives you a better chance of being heard.
If you are representing yourself at the Legislature, you do not have to register as a Lobbyist even if you have stakeholder support. If you are being paid or if you are formally representing someone else or a group, you might be considered a Lobbyist and may need to register as such.
To lobby, use email, faxes and phone calls to make your contacts. Actually write a personal letter in your own hand and mail it through snail mail. This is a surprise to the lawmakers and has impact. Send letters to the editors of Arizona papers (see Arizona Newspapers tab for contact info on every paper in AZ). And don't be shy about going to testify before the Committee to get your views on the record. When doing this, keep it brief: tell them what you are about to tell them, tell them, tell them what you just told them. Be polite but firm, be specific, stay on topic, keep it simple and thank them for the opportunity.
Now, you are ready to take on the Arizona Legislature or run for office. Good luck!
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