Photo by Schoolhouse Rock! via ABC

How to Kill a Bill: Five Tips for Keeping
Bad Legislation from Getting Passed
by Roberto Gutierrez | Jan 2, 2019 Photo

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.


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