At Voices for Children in Nebraska the primary focus of our advocacy for the last 25 years has been on state-level legislative advocacy. As part of that work, we make an effort to educate and energize every day Nebraskans to be advocates for children themselves. Taking a look through our archives reveals that while styles and tools for advocacy may change with the times, the fundamentals of advocacy remain largely the same.
Voices for Children’s first legislative training was held shortly after our founding in 1987. The content remains much the same today as it was in those first trainings. While the tools of advocacy may have changed with the growth of the internet and social media, a Legislative bill goes through the exact same process to become law as it did 25 years ago. In fact, the “How a Bill Becomes a Law” chart we use today is nearly identical to the one we used as early as 15 years ago!
During the Legislative Session, we track every single bill related to children’s issues introduced at the Nebraska Legislature. In the earliest years of Voices for Children, the most crucial service we provided to children’s advocates statewide was our regular legislative update on the status of these bills. With an average of 215 kid-related bills introduced every session, keeping advocates updated is no small task.
The Legislative Update has evolved over the years. In the 1980s and 1990s, getting updates on the status of legislation was hard to do if you didn’t follow what was happening at the Unicameral every day. We produced a long table of bills and their current status to make it easier for advocates to track what was happening on a regular basis. Advocates could subscribe to a mailing list and have the updated list mailed to them every other week. As technology and growth in internet use made it easier to update the list, we moved to a nearly weekly update posted to a password-protected part of our website. By 2007, we stopped mailing a paper copy of the legislative update, instead relying on email and our website to keep advocates in the loop.
Today, current information on the status of bills is easily accessible on the Legislature’s website, so we no longer publish a weekly list of 200+ bills. We focus instead on highlighting our priority bills and providing more commentary and analysis. The Legislative Update is part of our weekly advoKID email during the Legislative Session. Sign up to get the Legislative Update delivered to your email every Monday.