164 Influencing Legislation, Regulations, and Electoral Politics Policy practice requires knowledge about policy development, legislative regulatory processes, and electoral politics and takes place in one or more of the following arenas: 1. Right-conferring policies protect people from discrimination. 2. Need-meeting and equity-enhancing policies provide essential economic and health benefits, often targeting especially vulnerable populations. 3. Opportunity-enhancing policies provide education and training opportunities. 4. Public improvement policies benefit all people. 5. Public safety policies protect all people. 6. Regulations guide the enactment of public policies and protect the public from corporate, business, and landlord abuses. 7. Social services help vulnerable populations with life-transitional, environ- mental and stressors. 2. The Legislative Process Because the legislative process can be quite complex and extremely time and effort consuming, legislators are selective about which bills they place on the legislative agenda. Important factors that influence legislators’ deci- sion to sponsor a bill include acquiring support from and currying favor with their constituents and donors, gaining media attention, and the bill’s chances for success. Legislators often introduce specific legislation at the request of specialized advocacy groups or individual constituents. Therefore, social workers can influence legislation through participation in a special interest group or via their status as a legislator’s constituent. Social workers who work for the election or reelection of a legislator may have additional influence. After a bill is introduced, it is assigned to a committee. Committee members have three options: reject the bill by taking no action, refer the bill to another committee, or refer the bill to a subcommittee for research. If the decision is made to move forward, the bill proceeds to the full membership of the lower chamber for further debate and amendment. At the federal level, this chamber is the House of Representatives. If rejected by the lower chamber, the bill dies. If approved, it proceeds to the higher chamber, where it undergoes the same process. In the federal government, this is the Senate. If the bill is passed in both chambers without change in language, it is sent to the president or governor, who has a certain number of days to sign or veto the bill. If this individual signs the bill, it becomes law. If the chief executive vetoes the bill, it may still become law if the legislature overrides the veto by a two-thirds vote in both chambers.
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