McGeorge Adjunct Professor Chris Micheli

Negotiating bills and amendments in the California legislative process is an important skill for lobbyists and others to have as they work measures through this process.

Many advocates spend their time supporting or opposing bills on policy or fiscal grounds and they don’t engage in the actual negotiation of bill language for any number of reasons. For example, it may be due to their client being philosophically opposed to a measure. In that case, there’s no need to propose any amendments to the bill.

In other instances, however, a client’s position may be opposed unless amended. In that case, the lobbyist will need to draft amendments or have someone who can. When seeking amendments to a bill, some lobbyists simply describe verbally or in writing the amendment or amendments that their client desires without providing specific language; other advocates draft bill language so that they can provide proposed bill amendments for consideration to the bill’s author, staff, fellow lobbyists, or the bill’s sponsor.

There’s an art to negotiating bills like negotiating in general. For example, one thing you should try to assess is are both sides trying to achieve success so that there’s a win-win outcome for all parties or is one party being more aggressive and then the negotiation might create a win-lose outcome?

Another thing to think about is what type of approach you will use to advocate in your negotiations. Will you be passive? Will you be aggressive? Will you make requests? Will you make demands? Are you in a position of strength or one of weakness? Is the bill important or not very consequential? These are just some of the questions that might arise as well as a host of different factors that may influence what position an advocate takes in negotiating bills and amendments.

I discuss other tactics and strategies that successful lobbyists use to negotiate bills and amendments in today’s podcast. You can find a full transcript of today’s podcast here.