One Committee Down, Many More to Go

Keri and Michelle are back, and (SPOILER ALERT!) their bill, AB 1784, cleared its first major hurdle, the Assembly Committee on Human Services – and on a unanimous, 7-0 vote, no less.

The hearing was the culmination all the prep work that Michelle and Keri talked about last week. But, despite all that prep work and positive feedback, the day was not without its stresses. Assembly Human Services was the first make or break moment for the bill. Coupling that with the fact that AB 1784’s fate was ultimately in the hands of the committee members and not in the control of Michelle and Keri, it’s understandable that they’d have a case of nerves.

But, it’s worth highlighting here that Keri and Michelle made a very smart decision in their planning for the Committee hearing by having Jen Rexroad, The Executive Director of the California Alliance of Caregivers, be one of the three people – the other two being Michelle and Assembly Member Maienschein – delivering testimony to the committee. When you’re working on a bill, it’s never easy to say, ‘I’m not the best voice for this right now,’ but Keri and Michelle clearly made the right strategic call by having someone who can speak for resource families up there to compliment Michelle – with her background in social work – and Assembly Member Maienschein.

And now, with Assembly Human Services in the rear view mirror, the next test is the Assembly Appropriations Committee. As Keri and Michelle note, the bill is destined for the Suspense File. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t any drama or aren’t some very interesting developments. But we’ll leave those developments for next week’s episode.

Preparing for Policy Committee

In today’s edition of The Clinic, we dive into the process of preparing for a policy committee hearing with Michelle and Keri. It is a long process with lots of steps and lots of people to keep in the loop along the way.

The process started with some initial conversations – back when AB 1784 was just a policy proposal – with some of the consultants to the Assembly Committee on Human Services. That led to more in depth conversations, with more pointed questions about AB 1784, that was assigned to that Assembly Human Services.

In addition to those conversations, Keri and Michelle were also meeting with the Republican party’s consultant to the committee, and the staff of every member on the Assembly committee.

The prep process was also a lesson – learned the hard way – in not falling in love with your bill. In order for AB 1784 to clear the Assembly Human Services Committee, there were some fairly significant changes that Michelle and Keri needed to make. Nothing so drastic that it would dramatically alter what the bill would do – in fact it still would basically do what our two students lobbying the bill want it to do – but enough that they would not be able to say that their bill did not emerge from the committee completely unscathed.

Be sure to tune in for more details from the conversations Keri and Michelle had, what changes were made to AB 1784, and more.


The Clinic – Episode 3: Early Stages of Coalition Building

This week on The Clinic, we speak again with Keri and Michelle about the bill they are working on with Asm. Brian Maienschein, AB 1784. This episode concentrates on the process of finding support – both inside and outside of the Building – for their bill.

Keri and Michelle talk about how they approach special interest groups as well as the advocates for the policies they are working to improve. They speak about the process of building relationships with those groups and how they present their bill to them.

Building a coalition of supporters for your bill is a fine art that Keri and Michelle have been mastering this semester and they share with us how they approach presenting their bill to different groups. We hope you enjoy this week’s episode of The Clinic and we look forward to sharing next week’s episode where we start to talk about the Committee process!

The Clinic – Episode 2: How an idea becomes a bill

When we last left off with our two Clinic students, Keri and Michelle, we had just learned about the Legislative and Public Policy Clinic at McGeorge. We had also just gotten to know our two students and the bill that they are working on.

In the second episode of The Clinic we will be diving a little deeper into the details of their bill, but primarily, we focus on the process before the process. In other words, if you think of the overarching idea of this series as exploring through first-hand experience how a bill becomes a law then you can think of today’s episode as how an idea becomes a bill. Our two students talk at length about the research that they conducted to continually refine their idea as it moved from idea to policy proposal.

Once we get to the policy proposal we get to the more interesting part of the conversation where we pull back the curtain and go into the process of how someone who is not a legislator can have legislation introduced. It is a process that citizens and special interests alike can utilize to get their policy ideas turned into bills.

We hope you enjoy our second conversation with Keri and Michelle as we continue to explore the legislative process in California with them. We will return next week to discuss the steps that come between having a bill introduced and preparing for the committee process in the California Legislature.

The Clinic – Episode 1: Introducing Keri and Michelle

We’re excited to announce the launch of a new series here on CAP·impact that we’re calling The Clinic. CAP·impact exists to make it easier to understand the legislative process. We do that by utilizing the knowledge and experience of experts who work in California’s public policy world.

In this new series, we’ll explore California’s legislative process through the experiences of people just beginning to experience California’s legislative process. In this first season, those people are two McGeorge students, Keri Firth and Michelle Evans, who are both participating in the Legislative and Public Policy Clinic.

In the first episode we’ll meet our two students, get to them know them, their inspirations, and their bill. As the show goes on, and as their bill progresses further and further through the Legislature, we’ll progress with them. Speaking of their bill, Keri and Michelle are working on a bill affecting California’s foster care system that would create a pilot program for counties to give foster parents access to in home coaching after they receive a foster child.

We’ll get into more details of the bill and the legislative process in later episodes. For now, we hope you enjoy meeting Michelle and Keri, and learning a little bit more about their bill.