How does ConnAPA decide what issues to address?
The ConnAPA Legislative Committee regularly hears from members who express concerns for unnecessary barriers in their practice. Often times those barriers arise from misinterpretation of current statutes. Those issues brought up by members are considered, and the team tries to find solutions, many times helping drive legislative goals. As well, national initiatives are considered, and how ConnAPA can work to implement those national professional goals. Often there are bills that come about in the legislative session that may impact PAs in some way, sometimes in a positive way, other times negatively, and ConnAPA works to address those issues. As well, sometimes ConnAPA is approached by other organizations looking for support or partnership in achieving goals that are in the best interest of our patients.
How does the legislative process of change occur?
The legislative process is slow! Many times objectives can years to achieve. The process is nuanced and can vary. If ConnAPA were to want to introduce a new bill, typically the Legislative Committee will meet with the Public Health Committee to ask them to introduce the bill. If they do, and decide to advance it, there will be a hearing where anyone can testify to the bill, either for, against, or neutral but with suggested edits. The committee will then vote whether or not to advance the bill out of committee. If they do so, it then goes to the chambers of the legislature. Then the lobbying begins to ask them to raise the bill for a vote. The bill then needs to pass both chambers to be presented to the governor to sign it into law. There are other ways that legislative changes occur, but this is one of the more common routes that ConnAPA uses. However, another way includes language that follows a similar process, but along the way it is asked that PAs be included (or excluded), or that other changes be made. As well, sometimes language can be added to a bill, even if it is not relevant to the original bill language. The process is complicated and time consuming, and so the ConnAPA Legislative Committee is very thankful to the Kowalski Group, for all of their effort and expertise!
How can PAs in Connecticut help efforts to enact change?
Most important, IS TO BE A MEMBER OF CONNAPA! ConnAPA relies upon membership to fund the cost of the paid staff that support the organization, as well as the strength that comes in numbers when speaking to various stakeholders. ConnAPA works hard on behalf of all PAs, and so all PAs should support the organization!
Secondly, during the legislative session there are also usually calls to reach out to legislators. Often these are personal appeals sent by individual committee members. If you are contacted, it is because your particular legislators have been identified as key legislators in our efforts. Normally most of the work is done for you, so please help and reach out when asked!
As well, get to know your legislators! Meet them when they have local events in their districts. Speak to them about PAs and the work that you do. If you have questions about what to discuss before meeting with them, please feel free to reach out to the committee for help. If you are so inclined and available, consider supporting your local legislators in their election efforts. It will be a great opportunity to speak with them about our profession.
If you have questions, comments, or concerns, please reach out at any time to ConnAPA! Our email address is: ConnAPA@ssmgt.com.