166 Influencing Legislation, Regulations, and Electoral Politics educate and influence political decision-makers. A broad-based, unified voice is more apt to be heard than the cacophony of competing voices. Multiple sponsors make the proposed legislation more visible and increase the likelihood that the bill will overcome legislative obstacles. When a bill touches on a concern of a legislator’s constituency, active sponsorship is likely. Therefore, during the fact-finding phase, we should consider how our proposed legislative initiative would affect lawmakers’ constituents and their views on the proposed legislation. Hearings draw media and public attention to a proposed bill, although they also run the risk of expanding public opposition and may have other unintended consequences. When we engage in legislative advocacy, we want to take advan- tage of hearings that are open to the public. Prior to the hearing, social workers develop written testimony based upon their substantive and procedural research. Written testimony should not be read, but rather spoken from an outline, in order to maintain eye contact with committee members’ and sustain their interest. 4. The Regulatory Process Regulations ensure that organizations’ policies and programs conform to the intent of the legislation that created them. These reflect a combination of fed- eral, state, and at times local standards. Private bodies also exist to regulate a range of services in the public and private arenas, including social work edu- cation and medical and rehabilitation care. Social work intervention may be required when regulations are too complicated or contradictory, have become outdated or unresponsive, allow for too much or too little interpretation, or are nonexistent, creating risks to consumers and constituents. 5. Influencing the Regulatory Process The tasks and responsibilities associated with influencing the regulatory pro- cess parallel those that we use in legislative advocacy. Social workers begin by analyzing the extent to which proposed regulations are consistent with the intent of the legislation that created them and the impact that they are likely to have on clients. Social workers assess the impact of existing regulations based upon the four considerations previously identified. The worker’s goal may be to change the legislation that created the regulations in the first place, modify the regulations, or enact new ones. Social workers use public hearings to present their viewpoints in a struc- tured manner. This is likely to be more effective if, analogous to influencing the legislative process, they have organized a coalition of like-minded indi- viduals representing relevant constituency groups. Posthearing activities often
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