Presentation on Toolkits for Advocacy

Social Justice
About the Virginia Interfaith Center
• Virginia’s oldest faith-based advocacy group, since 1982
• Two programs, VCV and VACIR
• A nonpartisan coalition of faith communities working to
affect public policy
• Engaging people of all faiths, educating the public about
social issues, the legislative process, and the call to
• Advocates for policies that protect vulnerable
Why do we care?
• The haunting question of Cain’s response to God
in the Book of Genesis in the Hebrew Scriptures
is with us today:
• “ 9 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your
brother Abel?” He said, “I do not know; am I
my brother’s keeper?” 10 And the LORD said,
“What have you done? Listen; your brother’s
blood is crying out to me from the ground!”
Fereshteh Sarafraz
on Charity
• Mankind is created to be responsible toward others.
This kind of responsibility is not only in front of
God, but also in front of human beings. According to
God’s word, humans cannot be irresponsible and
apathetic. Humans can gain integrity by getting help
from God and doing his command. In Islam, a
Muslim should care about other Muslims and nonMuslims. There is a famous saying from the
Prophet Mohammad (PBUH):
• “If someone hears the cry of another person who
needs help and does not pay attention to his request
or does not reply to him, he or she is not a Muslim.”
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed
you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when
did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or
naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see
you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the
King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as
you did it to one of the least of these my
brothers,[a] you did it to me.’
November Election
All Members of House
• All Members of Senate
2015 Virginia General Assembly
Senate 21 (Republican) 19 (Democrat)
House 66 (Republican) 34 (Democrat)
R’s not veto proof in this single vote
Review on three branches of
• General
• Congress
• City Council
• Governor
• President
• Mayor
• Judicial
The Virginia General Assembly
● Citizen legislature
● House of Delegates
◦ 100 members
◦ 2-year terms
◦ Elected every odd year
● Senate:
◦ 40 members
◦ Elected every four years in odd years
The Virginia General Assembly Calendar
● Each even year
◦ 60-day session
◦ New members (every other year, HOD, every
four years, Senate)
◦ Budget adopted
● Each odd year
◦ 45-day session
◦ No new members (unless special election)
◦ Budget amended
Bills: From idea into reality
● Constituents express need for a change in
● Need expressed to legislator or member of
executive branch
● Need put into legislative language
● Bill assigned to committee
● Committee acts on bill
◦ Amendments
From idea into reality (continued)
House acts
Passed bill “crosses over” to other house
Process repeated
Bill passes
Same bill must pass in both houses
Passed bill on to the Governor
Governor signs into law effective (usually) July 1st
Bills may be carried over in the first year of the
biennium (even year)
Find patron and
draft language
Refer to committee
To house or senate
First reading
Second reading
Third reading
To opposite house
First reading
Second reading
To Governor
Third reading
Virginia 2016 Budget Process
Dec 17 (15): Governor presents his budget bill before the “money”
◦ Stakeholder feeding frenzy ensues
Approx. Jan 12: Regional Legislative Budget Hearings
◦ Citizen testimony presented on all matter of budgetary “asks”
Approx. Jan 15: Legislator budget amendment deadline
◦ No proposed changes accepted after this date
Approx. Feb 7: “Money” committees release their committee-approved
budget amendments
Approx. Feb 12:
Each house approves their own budget versions and disapproves
the opposing house version and conference committee appointed
Approx. March 8:
Conference report delivered
Approx. March 12:
Final approval and adjournment
So what about the logistics of bills
and the budget bill?
● The budget is a bill, but the process for
passing doesn’t necessarily follow the same
dates as all the other bills
● The budget is, well, very important. And
there’s only one budget.
● Other bills
◦ About 3,000
◦ Range from trivial to very important
“Never be afraid to raise your
voice for honesty and truth and
compassion against injustice and
lying and greed. If people all over
the world...would do this, it would
change the earth.” ― William
Successful advocacy entails
Collaborations and Coalitions
Many individuals and
groups saying the same
● In every venue
● From every perspective
● Using every event and
opportunity to deliver the
Without unduly
annoying legislators!
What legislative aides see as common pitfalls
in meeting with your legislator
● Waiting until the last minute. . . .
● “Dissing” the legislative aide and the
● Knowing only one side of the story. .
● Trash talking the “other”
● Talking too long
● Unfocused in the “ask”
● Not prepared with the bill number
or budget amendment
How is advocacy best achieved in a Frenetic fastpaced legislative session?
Work done up front.
● Develop the issue way ahead of time and bring in
stakeholders early to comment and suggest changes
◦ Messy process but invaluable
◦ Expect and appreciate divergence of perspectives,
especially from those with a lot of skin in the game
Talk with possible patrons early
◦ Majority party
◦ Interest in the topic
◦ Know how they work their bills
It’s all a matter of timing. When to
Sign up for our emails: join VICPP CONTACT LIST
Respond to Action Alerts
Help your congregants to know WHO is there
delegate or senator
Write a letter to the editor of your paper
Attend a town hall or candidate forum
Vote and encourage others to vote!
Church-based organizing
Call/Meet with your Delegate & Senator! (Role Play)
Attend an advocacy day during the General Assembly
2016 Advocacy Days
Annual Meeting of VICPP - December 8,
Day for All People of Faith January 20,
2016 at Virginia Union University
United Methodist Day – February 4,
Jewish Advocacy Day – TBD
Catholic Advocacy Day – TBD
Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy
804 643 2474
Thank You!