How To Change a Law | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

How To Change a Law

Mississippian Jerusha Stephens wanted to practice acupuncture, but the state medical board would only let licensed medical doctors practice. In March, Stephens worked with the state Legislature to change the law. Here is her advice on how:

Getting Info
Research the law you want to change, including it's history and related court decisions. For state laws, find out how many states have the version you want. Most information can be found online.

Determine why the law needs to be changed. Is it unconstitutional, unnecessary, unfair or ineffective? If not, why change it?

Getting Help
Talk to anyone affected by the law and establish an organization dedicated to changing the law.

Get a law-changing buddy: someone currently or formerly involved in the legislative process who can help. Connections and insider knowledge will be vital.

Getting the Word Out
Talk to local media and pitch real, human stories that the law affects. Organize events for the public—such as a concert or bake sale—to raise awareness and money.

Getting Face Time
Find a legistator that will sponsor or draft the bill.

Attend a meeting of the Legislature and present your case. Be prepared with a PowerPoint or other visual aid and copies of your presentaiton. Your passion is no good if you dress sloppy or can't answer legitimate questions

Attend the next meeting in which your bill will be discussed. If the bill dies, you'll know why, in order to try again with a better chance of success.

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