For many of us, our understanding of the legislative process and how a bill becomes law has been shaped by the iconic School House Rock episode, “I’m Just a Bill.” That catchy tune and whimsical animation taught us the basics of the journey a bill takes through Congress. However, the real-life process is often more intricate and demanding than the animated version suggests. 

In the realm of democracy, few accomplishments are as significant as successfully introducing a bipartisan bill into both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Such an achievement highlights the power of advocacy and the dedication it takes to bring about meaningful legislative change. The Industrial Hemp Act of 2023 stands as a testament to the tireless efforts over the last 20 months of our core Hemp Exemption team comprised of the National Hemp Association, Agricultural Hemp Solutions, and IND HEMP along with all our supporters who recognize the importance of this legislation. In this blog post, we will delve into the journey of introducing a bill, examining the crucial steps involved and the impact they have on the democratic process.

Understanding the Problem: While this may seem simple, it is actually quite involved and includes hearing from both industry stakeholders and the regulators that currently have jurisdiction over the issues. These initial conversations help determine how the desired results can be achieved. In the case of the Industrial Hemp Act this step started back in November of 2021 and listening to affected stakeholders is the key first step in the process.

Identifying Bipartisan Cosponsors:

The next step in the process of introducing a bill is to identify bipartisan cosponsors. This involves finding lawmakers from both sides of the aisle who are willing to support and champion the proposed legislation. Bipartisan support helps to build momentum and ensures a broader base of support for the bill. The advocates of the Industrial Hemp Act of 2023 engaged in extensive outreach and collaboration to secure cosponsors who shared their vision and recognized the potential of industrial hemp in various sectors.

Educating on the Need for the Legislation:

Once bipartisan support is established, the next crucial step is educating lawmakers and their staff on the necessity of the proposed legislation. We employ a range of tactics, including meetings, briefings, and sharing research and data, to convey the importance of the bill. By presenting a compelling case, we were able to garner support and create a broader understanding of the issue.

Drafting Language and Considering Legal Precedence:

Crafting a bill that effectively addresses the problem at hand while avoiding unintended consequences is a meticulous process. Our legal expert, Agricultural Hemp Solutions, worked closely with other legislative experts and lawmakers to draft the language of the bill, ensuring it aligns with existing laws and regulations. This involves a very detailed and meticulous process of researching legal precedents and other considerations to develop a solid and comprehensive piece of legislation. Focusing on clarity and precision mitigates potential challenges during the legislative journey.

Rallying Support from Stakeholders and the Public:

The success of any bill is often determined by the level of support it receives from stakeholders and the public. Advocates of the Industrial Hemp Act of 2023 organized grassroots campaigns, engaged with industry associations, and partnered with like-minded organizations to generate widespread support. We utilized social media, public events, and targeted outreach to raise awareness and rally individuals who understood the benefits of industrial hemp. By mobilizing a broad coalition, we created a powerful force capable of influencing the legislative process.

Identifying and Addressing Potential Opposition:

In the world of politics, it is essential to anticipate potential opposition and address concerns proactively. Advocates diligently “run the traps,” engaging in rigorous research to identify opponents and their arguments. By understanding the opposition’s perspective, advocates can develop counterarguments and present a compelling case to mitigate opposition. This process involves engaging in dialogue, addressing misconceptions, making amendments to strengthen the bill and finding common ground when possible.

Promoting Support After Introduction:

The work of advocates doesn’t stop once a bill is introduced. In fact, it intensifies. We continue to promote and rally support for the bill, urging individuals to contact their representatives, write letters, and share their stories. By fostering a groundswell of public support, advocates create a strong mandate for lawmakers to act upon. 

Introducing a Companion Bill in the Opposite Chamber:

To increase the chances of a bill’s success, advocates often pursue the introduction of a companion bill in the opposite chamber of Congress. This ensures that the legislation has the opportunity to move forward simultaneously in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. By building bipartisan support and expanding the reach of the bill, advocates maximize the chances of successful passage.

Getting it Across the Finish Line:

The introduction of the Industrial Hemp Act of 2023 in both the House of Representatives and the Senate is a remarkable accomplishment that showcases the power of advocacy and the democratic process. The journey from concept creation, identifying bipartisan cosponsors, to rallying support from stakeholders and the public requires unwavering dedication and strategic planning. Through education, collaboration, and persistent efforts, we have paved the way for legislative change that will positively impact the industrial hemp industry and beyond. The introduction of this bill serves as a testament to the vital role advocacy plays in shaping our democracy and creating a more inclusive and progressive society. But now we have to get it across the finish line! The Industrial Hemp Act of 2023 has the potential to move on its own and it also has the potential to be inserted into the 2023 Farm Bill.  Please show your support by becoming a sponsor and contacting your elected officials to ask them to support and cosponsor this important piece of legislation!

Why you should join us:

Introducing the Industrial Hemp Act of 2023 showcases the significance of bipartisan support, education, collaboration, and rallying support from stakeholders and the public. The National Hemp Association (NHA) has tirelessly worked over the last 20 months to bring about this legislative change. What sets the NHA apart is that we undertake these efforts on behalf of our members, providing a valuable service that would otherwise come at a significant cost. Traditional lobbying is an expensive endeavor, requiring substantial financial resources. However, we advocate for the Industrial Hemp Act and other important legislation with only the support of our membership fees. By joining the NHA, members not only support our crucial advocacy work but also save on the expenses typically associated with lobbying efforts. This unique approach allows individuals and organizations to actively participate in shaping the future of industrial hemp without the burden of exorbitant costs. Together, we can make a difference and propel the industrial hemp industry – please join the NHA today to support our commitment to free, inclusive, and effective grassroots advocacy on behalf of our members.