It’s been a while since we’ve heard from our two Legislative and Public Policy Clinic students, Michelle and Keri. While there isn’t a new interview with them up … yet, there is an update on their bill, AB 1784.

Last week – June 1 to be specific – was the house of origin deadline in the California Legislature. That means that any bill introduced in the Assembly needed to be passed off of the Assembly floor, and any bill introduced in the State Senate needed to passed off of the Senate floor by the end of business on June 1.

I’ll let this tweet from Assembly Member Brian Maienschein tell you what the fate of AB 1784 was in the State Assembly.

If anything, Asm. Maienschein is underselling the support for the bill, which passed the Assembly with a vote of 78-0 with no abstentions.

It’s first stop in the State Senate is the Senate Committee on Human Services. But before we get to that next hurdle, we’ll check back in with our intrepid bar exam studiers on the lead up to the floor vote in the State Assembly.

The Clinic – Episode 8: The Staff/Sponsor Relationship (transcript)

Today we have a very special episode of The Clinic.  In  addition  to  Keri  and  Michelle,  we’ve  got  the  legislative  staffer  who  they’ve  been  working with very  closely,  Carli  Olson,  in  Assembly Member  Maienschein’s office  joining  us. The conversation focuses less on AB 1784 and the legislative process and more on the relationship between the legislative staffer and bill sponsors.

Keri, Michelle, and Carli give insights into their relationship and communication strategies in order to ensure their bill’s success. Carli also tells us what she looks for in a bill sponsor such as willingness to adjust bill language, successful interpersonal relationships, and level of commitment to the bill passage.

One of the main obstacles in the staff/sponsor relationship can be managing amendments to the bill. Luckily, Keri, Michelle, and Carli have demonstrated an effective way to avoid tension and disagreement through maintaining open communication and respect. Keri and Michelle also explain that when they propose amendments and they are denied, they trust in the expertise of the legislative staff and the Assembly Member. The same is also in the reverse, Carli states that while she has done research on the subject, Keri and Michelle are experts and can provide insight to any questions Carli or Assembly Member Maienschein have.

Once again, a special thank you to Carli Olson for her candor and an insight into how she works with bill sponsors.

The Clinic is going to be taking a break for the next few weeks. As you remember, AB 1784 is currently sitting in the Assembly Appropriations Committee’s Suspense File. The deadline to move those bills isn’t until May 25, so we likely won’t see any action on the bill until after that date. We’ll be back with you as soon as there’s some movement.

We hope you enjoy this week’s episode!

In today’s episode of The CAP⋅impact Podcast we are talking about California’s foster care system and. In particular, we’ll be talking about AB 1784 – authored by Assembly Member Brian Maienschein (R – San Diego) which is one bill working its way through the California Legislature aimed at improving the system. To get more information on what’s in the bill and what it will do, we’ve brought Carli Olson on to this week’s episode. Carli is a Legislative Aide in Asm. Maienschein’s office and she is the staffer who is taking the lead on AB 1784.

The other people you’ll hear in today’s episode will sound familiar if you’ve been following our series The Clinic. That’s because we’re talking to Keri Firth and Michelle Evans, both of whom are McGeorge students who are participating in the school’s Legislative and Public Policy Clinic. We explore in much more depth what that clinic is in The Clinic, but to give you a quick summary of it, the Legislative and Public Policy Clinic gives McGeorge students the opportunity to experience the legislative process first-hand. Students come up with an idea for a bill and from there, they lobby that bill from start to finish through the California Legislature.

This is an exciting episode because it gives us a chance to highlight the great work Keri and Michelle are doing for a new audience.

As I promised in the episode, there are two places you can find the entirety of this series we’re doing with Keri and Michelle and they navigate AB 1784 through the California Legislature. Again, those spots are our page for The Clinic here on CAP⋅impact. The other place you can find all the episodes of The Clinic on our Soundcloud page.

As always, if you enjoy The CAP⋅impact Podcast, there are a couple of free and easy things you can do to help us out. Please subscribe to the show on iTunes or Apple Podcasts, and while you’re there, please leave us a five star rating and a review.

The Personalities of Committees

On today’s episode of The Clinic Keri and Michelle discuss their experience navigating budget subcommittee hearings in the Assembly and Senate. What stood out most to Michelle was how the two different subcommittees felt like they had different personalities.

That’s largely a result of the Committee Chairs running those committees, but an interesting observation. The primary different between the two committees was how the respective Chairs wanted to receive testimony. In one, the Chair was more lax with enforcement of the generally accepted two-minute rule for testimony and wanted to hear people’s personal stories to add context to their budget asks. In the other committee, the Chair was much more strict with the two-minute rule, and wanted to be impressed with the facts.

All in all, things seemingly went well in those subcommittees, and Keri and Michelle came out of those hearings with a further refined approach to their budget ask. We talk about that change in greater detail in the podcast.

We also revisit our earlier conversation about stakeholders and supporters of AB 1784. That list of groups is growing, which is good news for Keri and Michelle, but that was not always the case. There was a period of time where it seemed momentum was stalling around their bill. In the podcast we talk about some of the approaches that Michelle and Keri considered at the time – and are still considering – inject new energy into the bill.

Like I said, the list of supporters is growing, so the need to actively try to inject more energy is on hold for the time being. And as Michelle and Keri prepare for finals and the Bar Exam, it’s probably for the best that they sit back (a little bit) and react to requests rather than take the usual hyper-proactive approach that they’ve going with so far.

Goldilocks Testimony

AB 1784, having cleared it’s first hurdle – policy committee – moved on to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Keri and Michelle had been told that their bill was destined for the Suspense File and that they wouldn’t need to testify. That all changed the day before, and after a flurry of text messages Keri and Michelle found themselves pulling together testimony for Appropriations.

The tricky part of testifying in Appropriations is finding the right balance. Appropriations is a fiscal committee. You need to talk about the fiscal impact of your bill. But you also need to talk about the policy in the bill, just don’t talk about policy too much – just enough to provide proper context. And you need to do that in two minutes or less. You have to find that Goldilocks balance with your testimony.

Their testimony went as well as it could go. AB 1784 is still on Suspense, but that’s the nature of having a bill that costs over $150,000. And because they have a bill that costs a decent chunk of change – $4.75 million to be precise – Keri and Michelle launched a parallel effort to line up the funding for their bill through the budget process.

Fun fact about that – when you’re going through the budget process to get funding for a bill you cannot talk about the bill you’re trying to get funding for. You can essentially copy/paste your bill language into the budget request, you just can’t name the bill. So AB 1774 becomes foster care pilot program.

That request has led to two more hearings that Michelle and Keri have had to navigate, Budget Subcommittee hearings in both houses of the Legislature. They’ve completed both of those hearings and we’ll pick back up next week with the latest developments surrounding AB 1784.

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.