Monday, March 2, 2015

Some Background on CASAA Calls to Action

With so much proposed legislation, now seems like a good time to talk about how CASAA handles its Calls to Action.
We are tracking nearly 200 pieces of legislation at the state level, and more are being added to our list each day. Some of the legislation is received via a tracking service we subscribe to, while others are provided by groups that we work cooperatively with who sometimes have access to draft legislation and amendments before they are introduced.
When a bill potentially impacting consumer interests in regards to tobacco harm reduction (THR) issues is identified, we vet the bill, determine how it will impact consumers, formulate our response, and assess the likelihood of it advancing. As part of this process, we work cooperatively with others to assess its threat and to discuss strategy.
The timing of a CASAA Call to Action is key.  First, analyzing our response data, we have determined that participation is overwhelmingly good when we first issue the Call to Action. After the first day or two of initial release, participation falls way off. When a Call to Action is updated (requiring new emails/calls to be made), we see a bump in participation, but still nowhere near the levels when the Call to Action was first issued. Accordingly, we know how important it is to time the release of a Call to Action so that it can make the greatest positive impact.
So how do we determine the timing?
Sometimes we determine that the best focus of our efforts is very early on in an effort to prevent a bad bill from gaining traction or to try to get a not-so-terrible bill amended before it gets too far through the pipeline. Other times, we decide that we should hold off until a bill has been introduced into a committee that will be taking substantive action on it, at which point we can focus our efforts on that committee. In making these determinations, we take into account intelligence offered by others involved more directly in advocacy efforts in the state, but while that intelligence informs our decision, it does not control it.
It is important to remember that CASAA does not operate in a vacuum, and we do recognize and value the contribution of others in the advocacy space. And often part of the reason why we can afford to hold off on issuing a Call to Action in an effort to maximize our impact is because others are on the ground working both behind the scenes as well as publicly.
Just because CASAA has not issued a Call to Action for a particular state/bill does not mean that there is no activity or that people in that state shouldn’t be engaged. Intelligent and polite communications to lawmakers are always appropriate, whether early on before legislation is even threatened or in the midst of the battle over the issue.

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