Development of legislation is the point in policy formulation where specific legislative proposals, which are characterized in the previous chapter as hypothetical or unproved potential solutions to the problems they are intended to address, advance through a series of steps that can end in new or amended public laws. These steps, not unlike those of a dance, are specified or choreographed. Only when all of the steps in the legislation development process are completed (recall that this happens for only a fraction of the legislative proposals that begin the steps) does a change in policy result, either in the form of new public laws or, far more typically, in the form of amendments to previously enacted laws. The steps that make up legislation development provide the framework for most of the discussion in this chapter.
Legislation development comprises the series of steps through which laws are made and amended, beginning with the origination of ideas for legislation and extending through the enactment ofsome ofthose ideas into law or the amendment of existing laws. The steps apply equally whether the resulting legislation is completely new or, as is so often the case, it represents the amendment of prior legislation. An excellent and extensive description of the steps through which federal legislation is developed can be found by accessing "How Congress Makes Laws" at http://thomas.loc.gov (Library of Congress 2003). Similarly, most states include descriptions of their legislative processes on their web sites. For example, Pennsylvania publishes "The Biography of a Law" at http://www.legis.state.pa.us/WU01/VC/visitor_info/making_law /part_2.htm (Pennsylvania House of Representatives 1992).
The pathway formed by the steps through which legislation is developed extends from the origination of ideas for proposed legislation, which actually emerge in the agenda-setting stage, to formal drafting of legislative proposals and then through several other steps, eventually culminating in the enactment of laws derived from some of the proposals. Remember, however, that only a small fraction of the legislative proposals that are formally introduced in a Congress—the two annual sessions spanning the term of office of members of the House of Representatives—are actually enacted into law. Proposals that are not enacted by the end of the congressional session in which they were introduced die and must be reintroduced in the next Congress if they are to be considered further.
Only a small fraction of the problem/potential solution combinations that might be addressed through legislation are addressed in this way. When they are, the tangible final product is an enacted law, which can be an entirely new law or one or more amendments to previously enacted laws. As the bridge between the policy formulation and implementation phases (shown in Figure 6.1), formal enactment of proposed legislation into law represents a significant transition between these two phases of the overall public policymaking process. The focus in this chapter is on ways in which public laws are developed and enacted in the policymaking process; their implementation is discussed in Chapter 7.
It is important to remember, as described in Chapter 5, that individuals and health-related organizations, and especially the interest groups to which they belong, are instrumental in the agenda setting that precedes legislation development. They also actively participate in the development itself: Once health policy issues achieve a prominent place on the policy agenda and move to the next stage of policy formulation—development of legislation—those with concerns and preferences about policy in a particular area often actively continue to participate in support of its formulation.
Individuals and health-related organizations and interest groups can participate directly in originating ideas for legislation, help with the actual drafting of legislative proposals, and participate in the hearings sponsored by legislative committees as they undertake the development of legislation. When there are competing bills seeking to address a problem, those with interests in the problems align themselves with favored legislative solutions and oppose those they do not favor. In the following sections, the steps in legislation development are discussed in detail.
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