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States Find Tool for Quick Legislative Response

Harry J. Monroe, Jr.
Director, ACEP State and Chapter Relations

Those of us that work on state legislation often struggle with the pace of activity, particularly as deadlines approach for bills to get out of committee or as the end of the session nears. Lots of bills pass into law out of state assemblies, for both good and for ill, and taking advantage of the opportunity to impact them at a time that will make a difference frequently presents a challenge, especially with regard to mobilizing members to take action on key legislation having a significant impact on the practice of emergency medicine.

When ACEP rolled out engagED as a new social media platform for member communication and collaboration, I am not sure that it was really thought of as a new tool for advocacy efforts, but its value has been shown by at least a couple of chapters. In Indiana, an NP independent practice bill quickly made its way out of the state senate and appeared to be fast tracked for quick passage, with many of those groups that might be expected to be opposed either sitting on the sideline or actually deciding to favor the bill. Indiana ACEP President Chris Ross used engagED to mobilize members. Over the course of the session, he and others used the platform to share talking points, urge emails and calls to state legislators, and mobilize members to show up at the capitol for hearings. The chapter effectively created a buzz that there were reasons for concern about the impact of this legislation on emergency departments, thus showing legislators opposition on an issue where they had been led to believe that there was none. The result was that the legislation could not make it out of the House. Victory was clutched out of the jaws of defeat.

Similarly, in Texas, legislation threatened to dismantle successful liability reforms that have been in place for more than a decade. Chapter leaders used engagED to get information out, with the result that, according to TCEP’s Immediate Past President, Gerad Troutman, many members reported reaching out to state legislators to oppose, and ultimately defeat, the legislation.
These examples from a medium and a large chapter point toward the potential of engagED as an advocacy tool for chapters of all sizes. engagED can be a tool that provides a mechanism for getting out information that in turn gives members what they need to reach their legislators with personalized communications in support of positions that promote the specialty.

If your chapter does not have a means for encouraging advocacy in a way that allows for communication of information with a quick turnaround, I would encourage looking at this example.

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