State agency and local government legislative liaisons are a different breed of lobbyist that require a different suite of tools from their professional lobbyist counterparts. Government based legislative liaisons have different workflows and different information requirements. Fortunately, there are now legislative tracking systems that can enhance a state agency or local government’s legislation communication environment. Here are two features that state agencies and local governments should look for when searching for lobbying tools.
Assign Bills to Specific People
For state agencies and local governments, the lobbying process starts with collecting bills and gathering feedback. However, it can be difficult to coordinate the feedback from various department personnel to create a cohesive strategy for handling legislation. An office’s legislative liaison needs to be able to assign bills to departments and/or to individual people within the office to ensure they are utilizing the staff’s expertise to assess the impact of a bill. While many legislative liaisons already utilize their state’s legislation website or professional legislative tracking software to collect the bills, the software may not have everything they need. Technology from your legislative tracking system should allow you to assign bills to people within departments and email them the list of bills they are responsible for. While this used to mean printing out the contents of specific bills and delivering them to peoples’ desks, the automated process allows the legislative liaison to rapidly choose bills, link them to people, and use a one click function to send everyone the correct list of bills they need to review.
Create an Environment for Communication
Once bills have been assigned to their specific contacts or department, your tracking system should allow these people to easily give feedback on the bills. An agency lobbyist wants the department staff to see what other departments are saying about the legislation so they can formulate the best approach to handle the outcome for specific legislation. By sharing feedback, the agency lobbyist and management can better develop a strategy that will benefit from the input of those who will have to implement the legislation. Lobbying software that offers an online communication environment has proven to help make the entire process simple. Each person reviewing a bill should have a simple button to click and post their comments. The system should display who made comments and when they made them so when others come to view the bill they can see the history of comments from others in the agency. A system like this also has the benefit of allowing the lobbyist to monitor who has and has not contributed their feedback. When a lobbyist knows who hasn’t responded, they can contact and draw feedback from them easier. Finally, using a system like this puts everyone in the agency on the same platform with the same information, eliminating poor communication that results from people being out of the loop.
If your tools don’t allow you to assign bills to departments and create an environment for two-way communication, it may be time to switch.