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Legislative Histories: Social Work Assignments

Advocacy Portfolio

Part 1 -- Selection of Legislation and Building the Case -- due 2/8/11

1. Select a bill that will be heard in the upcoming session of the Florida Legislature [2011 Session begins March 8th]

a. Online Sunshine or go to www.leg.state.fl.us

b. Review both the House and the Senate by clicking on each of their logos. Go to BILLS on either page and you will have a list of various legislation that has been filed so far this year [NOTE: most bills have no action, few details, and no analysis as of 1/23/11]

c. NASW Florida (www.naswfl.org) and go to their legislative agenda [only 2010 coverage as of 1/23/11]

d. Florida Council for Mental Health (www.fccmh.org) [FCCMH has weekly updates for 2011 bill tracking]
or Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association (fadaa.org) [FADAA has nothing about specific bills as of 1/23/11] and select their legislative tab

e. Other organizations may include Florida Juvenile Justice Association [legislative alerts only available to members], Children's Home Society [2011 legislative priorities, but nothing about specific bills as of 1/23/11], Legal Services of Florida, Florida Council on Aging [FCOA has nothing about specific bills as of 1/23/11]

f. Other sites: Florida Chain [no 2011 details as of 1/23/11], Florida Health News ["At The Capitol" identifies some 2011 bills]

2. There will be three distinct sections to Part 1:

a. A description of the legislation -- summarize what the legislation will do, what is the law now, and what are the proposed changes.

b. What is the problem or problems the legislation is trying to address, how long has this problem been present (history of the problem), has this problem been addressed before through legislation, if yes, what was the outcome

c. Identify other agencies, networks, coalitions or other groups that might be interested in advocating for this bill and those who would advocate against this bill. What is their motivation to support for or against?

OTHER RESOURCES:

Florida News

Florida Legislators

Government Program Summaries (Florida Legislature)

State of Florida Auditor General

Legislative Review Paper Part 1 (SOW 5235 - James, Fall 2010)

In this paper, you will choose a policy and describe the situations leading up to the policy. Specifically, you will describe the problem that the policy was intended to address, the prior treatment of the problem by the government, and the initial development of the policy.

Introduction -- Provide an introductory paragraph that summarizes the content of the paper.

Problem -- Describe the problem/issue that necessitated or preceded your policy. How widespread was the problem or issue? Identify all populations impacted by the problem, both directly and indirectly, including how they are impacted.

Prior Treatment of the Problem -- How was the problem/issue handled before your policy? Did the national government ignore the problem or leave the problem to be addressed by state or local entities? Describe any other legislation, on either the national or state level, that sought to address the same issue.

Policy Origins -- Describe how your policy originated. Who introduced and sponsored the policy? What were their motivations for sponsoring the policy? Did a person, agency, conference, or international body request that the policy be introduced?


Government Program Summaries provide the following information about state government agencies and programs:  

  • why Florida provides the program,
  • how the program is funded,
  • current issues facing the program, and
  • references to other sources of program information and assessments.

Some useful encyclopedias include:


If the policy being researched is a federal law, then this Legislative Histories research guide may provide some assistance in answering the questions.

If you don't already know the Public Law (P.L.) and bill numbers, use Step 1 - Public Law number

Policy Origins -- Use Step 4 - Bill Tracking Report to identify who introduced the bill. Look in the Congressional Record for any remarks they made at the time of introduction indicating why they were introducing the bill.

Problem and Prior Treatment -- Use Step 2 - Locate overviews to identify background information. The narrative descriptions in Congressional Quarterly Almanac may identify attempts to deal with the problem in previous years. The legislative history section about a bill in U. S. Code Congressional & Administrative News may include committee reports with background information.

Legislative Review Paper (SOW 4232 - Mann, Fall 2010)

Resources identified in this guide may assist with specific sections of the paper.

NOTE: You should still conduct your research step-by-step in the numeric order of the steps in the guide, NOT in the numeric order of the sections in the paper or skippng around to whatever section catches your interest. The step-by-step procedures of the research guide are designed to give you a better understanding of the law and what happened with it BEFORE you start digging into the full documentation looking for details to answer specific questions.

1. Introduction

2. Problem -- Describe the problem/issue that necessitated or preceded your policy. How widespread was the problem or issue? Identify all populations impacted by the problem, both directly and indirectly, including how they are impacted.

  • Committee report(s) reprinted in U.S. Code Congressional & Administrative News (step 2) usually provide background information.
  • The narrative discussion of a law in Congressional Quarterly Almanac (step 2) usually includes background information; remember to look at earlier volumes of Congressional Quarterly Almanac if appropriate.
  • Look at the testimony and supplemental materials in the hearings (step 3).

3. Prior Treatment of the Problem -- How was the problem/issue handled before your policy? Did the national government ignore the problem or leave the problem to be addressed by state or local entities? Describe any other legislation, on either the national or state level, that sought to address this same issue.

  • Committee report(s) reprinted in U.S. Code Congressional & Administrative News (step 2) usually provide background information.
  • The narrative discussion of a law in Congressional Quarterly Almanac (step 2) usually includes background information; remember to look at earlier volumes of Congressional Quarterly Almanac if appropriate.
  • Look at the testimony and supplemental materials in the hearings (step 3).
  • The summary of the law at the beginning of the legislative history (step 3) may identify if the law amends earlier laws, or you may need to check the full text of the bill.

4. Policy Origins -- Describe how your policy originated. Who introduced and sponsored the policy? What were their motivations for sponsoring the policy? Did a person, agency, conference, or international body request that the policy be introduced?

  • The Bill Tracking Report (step 4) will identify the initial sponsor as well as subsequent co-sponsors. Sometimes the initial sponsor speaks at length when first introducing the bill about why they decided to propose the bill and the remarks can be found in the Congressional Record. Look at the earliest couple of items listed in the Bill Tracking Report.
  • If the initial sponsor doesn't provide clear answers to the questions posed for this section of your paper, then you may have to keep an eye out for the answers as you work through the other resources (step 2, step 3, and step 8).

5. Policy Process -- Summarize the process through which the bill passed. For example, did the bill stand alone or was it packaged together with other bills? What committees did the bill pass through? Was there any difficulty in obtaining a majority vote in favor of the bill? Was there any threat of veto?

  • The narrative discussion of a law in Congressional Quarterly Almanac (step 2) usually describes the process through which the bill passed; remember to look at earlier volumes of Congressional Quarterly Almanac if appropriate.
  • The Bill Tracking Report (step 4) will identify the various committees through which the bill passed.
  • Following the summary at the beginning of the legislative history (step 3) there may be a list of related bills.

6. Interest Groups -- Who were the opponents/supporters of this legislation in the political arena, e.g., groups, organizations, public and private citizens, etc. You must not only identify them but discuss why these groups/persons were opponents/supporters of the legislation, including any data or ideological arguments used.

  • Look at the testimony and supplemental materials in the hearings (step 3).
  • Opponents/supporters may be discussed in Congressional Quarterly Almanac (step 2) and in articles (step 8).

7. Policy Impact -- Describe the impact of the policy. Did the policy achieve its goal in resolving the problem described in your first paper? What groups or persons benefited from or were impacted by this policy? Did the policy produce any unintended consequences?

  • If you choose a law that is at least a few years old there may have been time for the impact to have been felt/measured/reported in articles (step 8). The anticipated impact may have been identified in committee reports and hearing testimony. Look for subsequent amendments and proposed bills in more recent years.

8. Conclusion