State Advocacy Exploded in January
The advocacy boom that began with the pandemic and continued last year shows no sign of slowing. In just one month, more than 33,000 state bills have been introduced and advocacy connections are up 35%. Check out the numbers.
Just one month into 2022, legislatures in dozens of states have jumped into action, introducing tens of thousands of bills. In turn, scores of organizations have stepped up their advocacy, launching campaigns to target lawmakers and governors.
The result is that an advocacy boom that began at the start of the pandemic and continued last year shows no sign of abating. In fact, state-level advocacy activity has grown this year over both 2020 and 2021.
Explosive State Action
In the states, lawmakers lost no time filing legislation in January. Of course, not all of it will pass, or even be considered. But the bills that do see action can be approved quickly, sometimes in a matter of days or weeks. It’s a sharp contrast to Congress, which can debate for months before passing a major bill.
Take a look at what has happened in legislative chambers across the country:
- More than 33,000 bills were introduced by state legislatures in January—nearly 1,100 each day, according to Capitol Canary intelligence data.
- Almost two thirds of those bills (64%) were introduced in the top 10 states: New Jersey, Mississippi, Illinois, Hawaii, Virginia, Missouri, West Virginia, Tennessee, New York and Arizona.
- The three lawmakers who introduced the most bills are all from Hawaii. State Senator Bennette Misalucha introduced the most at 599, followed by state Senator Stanley Chang at 589 and state Representative Greggor Ilagan at 420.
State lawmakers are chewing on a broad range of issues, from pandemic relief and healthcare to infrastructure, redistricting and technology regulation. Dozens of bills can be introduced on just about any issue, both in a single state and across the country.
Voting rights are a good example. Last year, 19 states passed 34 laws that could restrict voting this November, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. The activity is likely to continue this year, with more than 150 voting rights bills carrying over to current sessions in 18 states and more being introduced.
Boom in State Advocacy
As state lawmakers accelerated, so did companies, associations and nonprofits that want to influence policy. Here’s some of the activity we saw in January:
- The number of connections made with state lawmakers and other officials through the Capitol Canary platform in January of 2022 rose 35% over the same period in 2021. Almost 528,000 total connections were made—more than 17,000 a day.
- Washington, Oklahoma, California, Illinois and New York saw the most action. Almost half of the connections made (46%) were made in these five states.
- Well-known governors were the largest targets. New York’s Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul, who took over in August after former Governor Andrew Cuomo stepped down amid scandal, led the list with more than 18,000 contacts. California’s Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom, who survived a recall effort last year, was second with almost 8,000 contacts. Both states have been considering big pieces of legislation, including congressional redistricting in New York and major healthcare reforms in California.
- California state Senator Sydney Kamlager, a Democrat who is now running for Congress, was the state lawmaker who received the most contacts at almost 4,300. Kamlager has been active on issues involving criminal justice, racial equality, healthcare, homelessness and more.
Is Your Team Struggling?
Most government affairs teams that track state legislation are already in the thick of it, and will not emerge until spring, when state sessions begin to ramp down. But if your team is struggling, here are five things you can do right now:
- Narrow your focus. Many teams have far more responsibility than they can reasonably address. If you are spread too thin, talk to leadership about focusing tightly on priority legislation in a handful of states. As the saying goes, there can never be more than one top priority. Narrowing focus can increase efficacy.
- Find temporary help. While hiring is always a tough sell, an additional hand retained on a temporary basis may get a warmer reception. If you bring them over from another team or department, it can even be a no-cost solution. Just as retail outlets hire additional salespeople for the holidays, your team can request help as legislatures in 46 states come into session.
- Leverage professional technology. If you are not using a professional legislative tracking system, you are doing things the hard way. There is much to recommend professional tools and it is not too late to help yourself this year. The right intelligence and tracking tool, setup by a professional vendor, can be active in a matter of days, giving you automated tracking, real-time alerts and simplified reporting.
- Obtain better data. Targeting the right people, landing the right meetings and staying up to speed relies on having the right contacts, especially at the staff level. Relying on free resources can keep you locked out. Better data will ensure that you can reliably contact the people you need, and do it quickly.
- Lean on partners and coalitions. Allies can be a huge help when it comes to monitoring state bills and getting active. Whether formally or informally, they can share tracking, bill summaries, targeting, messaging and other worthwhile intelligence. If your interests align with other organizations, there’s no shame in getting by with a little help from your friends.