Legislative Action Guide

Creating a Law in New York

Requires specific steps. In short, a bill must first go through the Senate, then the Assembly, then to the Governor to be signed into law. Here are the specifics:

  1. The bill needs to be sponsored by a Senator and an Assemblyperson. It is then assigned bill numbers in the Senate (e.g. S.12345) and Assembly (e.g. A.54321).
  2. The bill is introduced in the Senate.
  3. The bill is generally the referred to the appropriate Senate committee (e.g. Higher Education, Insurance, etc.) for approval. Many bills do not get through this point (they “die in committee”). Once approved, the bill goes to the floor of the Senate for possible debate and a vote.
  4. The bill is voted on and passed by majority vote in the Senate.
  5. The bill is introduced in the Assembly.
  6. The bill is referred to the appropriate Assembly committee. Once approved, the bill goes to the floor of the Assembly for possible debate and a vote.
  7. The bill is voted on and passed by majority vote in the Assembly.
  8. The bill goes to the Governor, who must sign it for it to become law.

Things you can do:

1. Write a letter to your local Assemblyperson and Senator (visit www.vote-smart.org), in your own words. Personalize the letter with your own experience and perspective (e.g. practitioner, student, etc.), and follow the tips stated below. Send a copy of your letter to the ASNY office.

It is estimated that fewer than 10 percent of voters will ever write to elected officials. Yet contacting your elected officials with a letter is an important part of making a difference. They work for you. They theoretically want to hear our views, and they definitely can’t afford to ignore them. It’s our responsibility to express those views.Tips for your letter:
Be brief, address only one issue at a time…say why the issue or legislation matters to you; state your reasons for opposing or supporting a particular bill. If you have particular expertise, then say what it is. Be positive and constructive; give compliments if they are sincere. Send a copy to your local newspaper to help build support for the issue. Use the appropriate title of the elected official… After you have written once, then keep up the contact and periodically communicate that you are following closely what happens; thank the official and state that you will be following up with a phone call in a week to receive a response, and then do so. As effective as one letter is, twenty-five on the same issue are even better.

From a book we highly recommend,
Healing the Soul of America (formerly The Healing of America),
By Marianne Williamson

2. Ask your patients (students: your clinic patients) to write a letter of their own. Send them to local representatives, and ASNY.

3. Visit with your local representatives. Here is another fine excerpt from Healing the Soul of America:

Visiting elected officials is an important part of promoting our points of view. A citizen visiting his or her elected officials is visibly identifying himself or herself as a constituent or voter. Because the official is focusing on you as an individual and as a voter, the visit will have a great impact. One of the important ways of effecting change with elected officials is by building a strong relationship. Developing strong relationships with them is an important part of exercising our power in a democracy. It is especially important to develop relationships with staffs of elected officials. Elected officials and their staffs are eager to get information that they can use in speeches and when working with constituents. Tips for your visit:

  1. Make an appointment by calling your elected official.
  2. Indicate the issues you want to discuss.
  3. Study the issues to be covered in the visit. Keep the discussion to one or perhaps two issues.
  4. Keep the atmosphere friendly and open. You are there to exchange ideas; under no circumstances should you become angry.
  5. Limit the time of the meeting. Don’t let the conversation drag.
  6. If you don’t know the answer to a question the official asks you, just say so and explain that you’ll get the information. Make sure you follow through.
  7. Leave some information with the elected official on the issue. This will help him or her remember you visit.
  8. Follow your visit with a thank you note. Remember-your main objective is to establish continuing dialogue with your elected officials.

4. Contribute generously to ASNY’s Legislative Action Fund. A large percentage of ASNY’s annual budget goes to addressing legislative issues that affect our profession. These expenses include retaining a lobbyist in Albany, lobbying trips to Albany by the Law & Legislation committee, mailings, maintaining a web site, and more. ASNY is the leading voice for acupuncture in New York, effectively representing the concerns of acupuncturists and their patients. With the exception of our part-time office staff, we are we a volunteer organization, and rely on the support of our members to represent them. Please make an investment in the future of your profession and career by making a donation of any amount to the fund. You can even call in your donation with a credit card. Consider at least making a donation of an amount equal to one patient visit. It will surely be money well spent.

To Find Your Elected Officials

http://www.vote-smart.org (the best all-around citizen activism site; unbiased & highly recommended)