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How to Sit and Wait Faster

By February 2, 2024Blog
Graphic for The Tally blog titled "How to Sit and Wait Faster" with a photo in the background of five people sitting and waiting in chairs.


We’ve hit week three which means we are nearing the halfway mark. Next Wednesday, January 31st is the first cutoff date so if bills don’t get to moving past their policy committee, they’re gonna get to dying. ☠️

Some bills have been chugging along while others have been sitting pretty in Rules or a fiscal committee and haven’t budged an inch. Why is that? We’ll walk you through it after our Top Ten.

Scroll for bill updates and take action!

✍️ Twiddle Your Thumbs With Purpose ✍️

If you’ve been a long-time Tally reader you know last year we covered cutoffs and wayback we wrote a blog post about how bills move through the legislative process. The legislative session is dictated by cutoffs, but in a short session, it is even more apparent.

On day 17 of 60 you may feel the familiar contradiction where the days pass like hours and yet your bills inch along like slugs. Let’s uncover why your bills may or may not be moving and what you can do about it:

  • Why hasn’t a hearing or a vote been scheduled for a bill?
    • Leadership and the Chair of the committee decide which bills get heard. At every step of the process, they calculate how much time remains to hear, vote on, deliberate, and amend a bill before the next cutoff. Because of this time scarcity—and because they don’t like getting yelled at—legislators prioritize bills that they feel the most pressure to pass.
    • What should you do?
      • Act with a sense of urgency
      • Message why your bill needs to move now.
      • Drive up pressure from constituents on key committee chairs and members with emails and phone banking
      • Do not ever let your bill die quietly or without a fight
  • What does it mean if a bill is caught up in Rules?
    • The Rules Committees decide whether a bill will get a hearing on the floor and when. This is where leadership has the most power in the process. Rules control the floor schedule and timing. If your bill is caught up in Rules, leadership isn’t ready to move your bill for a variety of reasons including timing, strategy, or priority. Typically, if leadership is not confident in a bill passing, they will not move it through Rules and pull it to the floor for a vote. Each member is also limited to only a few pulls, so you have to get on their priority list early.
    • What should you do?
      • Meet with your bill sponsor as soon as possible to determine what could be holding up your bill
      • Determine which way Rules and leadership leans on your bill
      • Apply constituent pressure and media buzz where possible
  • What can you do if you’re just sitting around waiting for a bill to move? (hint: don’t just sit around and wait)
    • Although legislators work for us, we don’t actually get to boss them around and send them out to get us lunch. Sadly. But we can remind them who is in charge.
    • What should you do?
      • Remember you are an agent of change yourself
      • Tap those thumbs on your screen and write emails to your own legislators asking them to prioritize the bill
      • Tweet (or “X”?) out your support and ask your friends and family to join you
      • Go to the Community Whip Count and share it around so you always know where your legislators stand and who you need to move on an issue
      • Remember that repetition is key for persuasion and do not back down
      • Check out our blog on 3 Ways to Move a Legislator


What do you think? Have any questions? Tweet us your thoughts @WACommAlliance.
Keep up on the action and opportunities to get involved through our legislative newsletter, The Tally.