American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

Drafting Appropriate Language for the Legislation

Selecting a Sponsor for the Legislation

A bill cannot be introduced without a legislative sponsor. Most health care bills end up assigned to a health care or insurance committee, so it is often a good idea to ask the chair of that committee to be a sponsor, with other members of the committee to be cosponsors. Getting numerous cosponsors (particularly of a bipartisan nature) can help to show support for the bill at the outset and help its eventual passage, as does co-sponsorship by legislative leadership.

It can also be helpful to look for sponsors in “unexpected” people (not your usual allies). This is particularly helpful when you are working on a piece of compromise legislation. For example: a legislator who is normally supportive of insurance companies would be a good choice to champion insurance reforms.

Working with the Leadership of the Legislative Body to Determine Support

In virtually every state, legislation first has to go through a rules committee (or equivalent) composed of the legislative leadership or their representatives and controlled by the majority party, which is responsible for assigning bills to hearing committees. If the leadership doesn’t want a bill to pass, it will not get out of the rules committee. As such, gaining support of legislative leadership is a critical factor in a successful advocacy strategy. Special consideration may be given, however, to the chairman of a committee who happens to be a sponsor of the legislation, or if a member of the rules committee is a sponsor.