Legislators have already started to work - and, if you haven't, now is an opportune time. It is crucial that you stay ahead of the curve when it comes to the legislative process. Being prepared beforehand allows you to get a head-start on your competitors. If you know what bills are being introduced, you can start working on strategies to ensure that your interests are being represented.
Second, the pre-filing period gives you an opportunity to build relationships with lawmakers. If you wait until the session starts to begin engaging with legislators, you'll be at a disadvantage. By starting early, you can start to build the rapport that's so necessary for effective advocacy.
Finally, this allows you to be proactive instead of reactive. If you wait until bills are formally introduced, you may discover yourself scrambling to keep up.This blog post will break down all of the important specifics of pre-filing, including the deadlines and how to prepare.
Why is prefiling so important?
So, what exactly is pre-filing? Pre-filing is the formal process of submitting bills to the state legislature for consideration during the upcoming legislative session. Once bills have been pre-filed, they can be found, researched, and tracked by legislation management solutions, like Engagifii Government Affairs. For most states, the pre-filing period begins months before the start of the legislative session and offers lobbyists time to work with legislators to draft and submit bills, request committee hearings, and line up sponsors.
The pre-filing process requires some effort up-front but is an essential step in the legislative process and an opportunity to plan ahead. It is during this pre-file period that lobbyists, associations, and advocates have the greatest impact and opportunity to convey support or opposition. Online legislation platforms can help you monitor bills of interest, organize your efforts, and collaborate on important bills before the session convenes.
In addition to using an online legislative tracking tool to keep tabs on pre-filed bills, you can use it to stay on top of “carry-over” bills (proposals that were introduced in the last legislative session but didn’t come to a vote). In some states, carry-over bills are automatically re-introduced at the beginning of the next session.
By implementing the correct government affairs solution early and doing this work in advance, you can save time and energy during the session when things are more hectic.
How can I prepare during pre-filing?
If you're a lobbyist or government relations professional, here are a few things you can do to prepare:
1. Stay up-to-date on pre-filed bills. Use a legislative tracking solution that will allow you to monitor all bills that have been pre-filed.
2. Create online alerts. Create or subscribe to notifications that inform you when bills have been pre-filed (and bills introduced during the session). The best solutions will allow you to create saved searches that automatically notify you as soon as a bill has been pre-filed or introduced that matches any of your saved terms.
3. Start researching bills that have been pre-filed. Once you know which bills have been pre-filed, you can start researching their implications. This will help you form arguments for or against the bills and determine which ones you want to lobby for or against. By collaborating with key stakeholders and analyzing pre-filed bills directly in your legislative management solution, you'll be able to be more efficient once the bill is formally introduced.
4. Reach out to your state legislators. If you have questions about a bill or want to express your support or opposition, communicate with your state legislator. You can find their contact information directly on the bills they have sponsored, and even keep records of communication and meetings, in many popular tracking solutions. With so many newly elected officials, this can be a huge time saver for 2023.
5. Start engaging stakeholders early. Provide early value and get key insights from clients, colleagues, and others, ensuring you are aligned on your priorities and actions. Send newsletters and legislative reports prior to the session to gain exposure and engagement.
Monitoring pre-filed bills is a lot of work, but technology makes early preparation easier. By using a legislative tracking solution, you can make sure you don't miss a beat and are ready to engage with stakeholders and legislators when the time comes.
Important 2023 State Legislative Session Dates
» In 2023, all 50 state legislatures will convene, including Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, and Texas, which only meet in odd-numbered years.
» California’s 2023-2024 legislative session is the first to convene on December 5th, followed by Maine's on December 7th.
» Most states will convene their legislative sessions in January, though a handful will wait until later.
2023 State Legislative Sessions Convene Dates
Jan 2: District of Columbia, Montana, Ohio
Jan 3: Kentucky, Mississippi, Minnesota, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Wisconsin
Jan 4: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont
Jan 9: Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Washington
Jan 10: Delaware, Indiana, New Jersey, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Wyoming
Jan 11: Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia
Jan 17: Alaska, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah
Jan 18: Hawaii
Feb 6: Nevada, Oklahoma
Mar 7: Alabama, Florida
Apr 10: Louisiana
Important 2023 Pre-filing Dates
Legislative session start dates are valuable to know but equally as important are pre-filing dates and deadlines.
Pre-filing deadlines vary from state to state, but they are typically a few months or weeks before the start of the legislative session. In some states, the deadline is the day of the session, while in others they do not allow for early pre-filing.
States that have started 2023 Pre-filing (as of Nov 11, 2022)
Mid-November and December Pre-filing periods
Most states have pre-filing deadlines in mid to late November or early December.
Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin
Delaware, Indiana, Maine, Missouri, Nevada, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia
Some states have not yet released dates and others do not allow for pre-filing.
The Engagifii Government Affairs team is here to help you make the most of your pre-filing period. We've created this guide with important dates and best practices for a successful pre-filing process so that you're ready to hit the ground running when your state's legislature convenes!
Schedule a time to discuss how our legislative tracking platform can help you.