Most of us have an understanding, thanks to our civics class (or perhaps a famous jingle by Schoolhouse Rock), of how a bill becomes a law in the United States. And certainly all of us, at one point or another, have experienced something in our lives that made us stop and think to ourselves, "there really should be a law for that." How many of us, however, have actually participated in the process in which laws are made in order to address the issues that affect or matter to us?
Effective legislative advocacy requires: (1) an understanding of the legislative process, (2) the ability to discover and track proposed legislation, and (3) the ability to make views on proposed legislation known to elected representatives. The purpose of this pathfinder is to provide an overview of each of these three skills and to assist researchers in locating relevant resource materials on the legislative process. In promoting awareness of the legislative process and increasing access to the tools needed to engage in the process, it is hoped that this pathfinder will encourage its readers to become more actively involved in the shaping of laws that concern them. The focus in this pathfinder is on legislative advocacy at the state level in the State of California. In addition, while participation in the legislative process by way of the ballot initiative can be a powerful means by which one endeavors to shape public policy, the subject of advocacy via the ballot initiative is beyond the scope of this pathfinder. A glossary of common terms used in the legislative process may be found on the last page of this guide.
The author has endeavored to include, to the fullest extent possible, resource materials that are freely accessible to all researchers online. There are, however, a number of resources referenced in the following pages that are not freely accessible to users outside of the UC, UCLA, and UCLA School of Law communities due to license restrictions. Where access to a resource is limited due to license restrictions, items have been marked as "(UCLA Only)" or "(Law School Only)" to signal such restricted access. UCLA School of Law students may find instructions on how to access UC, UCLA and UCLAW licensed databases remotely in the Law Library's How to Access UCLA Databases Guide, which is available at http://libguides.law.ucla.edu/databaseaccess.