Legislative tracking software has become a vital tool for lobbyists. Most states publish thousands of bills each legislative period, and sifting through them to determine what is important is a tedious and time consuming task. After gathering a universe of bills to review, government affairs specialists need to communicate important information to the people that need it, and not everyone requires the same information. To make matters more challenging, once the legislative session starts bills are introduced and updated daily, meaning a lobbyist must continually monitor and communicate legislation for their audience. If you are a lobbyist and are not already using legislative tracking software, your job is much more difficult than it needs to be. Here are three reasons you should consider investing in a legislative tracking system.
Each legislation session there are literally thousands of bills and resolutions introduced in each state. For any lobbyist in any state, the amount of bills that need to be checked can easily reach into the thousands. Without tools to help find bills, tag them for monitoring and automatically update them the task can be unexpectedly time consuming and extremely tedious.
Through implementing a Legislative tracking system the entire process becomes simple. It delivers the bills in your state, and gives you the ability to quickly review them and choose the ones you want to follow. Tracking software should allow you to search for bills by critical text to find the bills that contain language of interest to you. Once you identify a bill to track, you should be able to assign bills to folders to make it easier to retrieve groups of bills related to the same topic or bills that are relevant to specific issues. Your tracking system should allow you to assign a bill to multiple topics as legislation can affect many areas of an organization.
Finally, once you identify a bill to be monitored, the system should do the work of updating the status of a bill so it shows you how the bill is progressing through the legislative process. If you invest in legislative tracking software, you can reduce your effort to find bills and see what has happened to them on a day to day basis, saving you great amounts of time.
Once your bills are organized, a good legislative tracking system will assist in communicating the topics to your audience. As a lobbyist, it is important to consider that there are two types of communication. First, you want to make sure that the key points of a piece of legislation are known to your audience. Some Legislative Tracking software has features that can “lead” people with the information about why the bill is important. Good software has ability to enter notes and text that can be seen by your audience to get that point across. You also need feedback from certain members of your audience to help develop the strategy for a bill. Often that feedback comes in the form of phone calls and disparate emails. A good tracking system will have the ability for someone reading a bill to submit comments and store those comments with the bill for easy access by the lobbyists. With all comments in one place, the job of reviewing information becomes much easier.
Organization and communication are the cornerstones of an effective advocacy campaign. If you are communicating the issues and explaining your position to your audience they are more likely to be concerned with their legislature’s action on controversial bills. If this is the case, members of your audience will be empowered to get your message out to legislators. We’ve notcied that grassroots advocacy works better when the advocates are informed instead of being asked to participate without having any background information. If you can publish the issues with a tracking system, you have mastered half the problem of running an advocacy campaign
With the combination of large numbers of bills, swift moving responses to legislation, and the need for distributing bill information, lobbyists need technology to keep up. Whether you are a government agency lobbyist, a private lobbyist, or an association lobbyist, technology can help you do more with fewer resources.