How to Propose a Law

By Brenna Davis ; Updated May 31, 2017
Law books in a legal library

A democracy such as the United States thrives on an involved citizenry, and government is most responsive to citizen needs when they weigh in on laws. A proposed law that has not yet passed is called a bill. Citizens can propose a bill to their local, state and federal representatives, and then get involved to help it become law.

Determine whether your law will apply at the local, state or federal level. Local ordinances are typically the easiest to pass, while federal laws are the most complex and challenging. The overwhelming majority of laws occur at the local or state level, so begin close to home when campaigning for a new law.

Research current law. In order to pitch a law to your government representatives, you need to be informed about current law. See Resources for a link to federal, state and local laws.

Write your proposed law. A bill is more likely to become a law when it is simple and proposes only a minor change or addition to current law, so keep it as simple as possible. Include an introduction or preface that provides a justification for the law. This justification should include relevant research. For example, if you are proposing a law to raise the percentage of income people must pay in child support, show why this would benefit families. Research showing that current child support amounts are insufficient to support children would help make your case.

Determine who your government representatives are. If you are proposing a law in a local municipality such as a city or county, you will have a city council or county commission representative. If you're proposing a state law, contact the representative and senator who represent your jurisdiction in your state legislature. Contact U.S. congressional representatives for federal laws. Every state has two senators in the U.S. Congress, and each congressional jurisdiction has one state representative. See Resources to learn who your local, state and federal representatives are.

Pitch the bill to your representatives. Be friendly, succinct and respectful, even if the government official does not like your bill. The goal here is to find a sponsor for the bill. This is a person who will introduce it to the voting members of a council, commission or Congress.

If your representative will not sponsor the bill, start contacting other representatives. While it's best to have your representative sponsor the bill, any elected official can introduce it.

Tip

Make sure the bill you propose is not in conflict with any other laws.

About the Author

Brenna Davis is a professional writer who covers parenting, pets, health and legal topics. Her articles have appeared in a variety of newspapers and magazines as well as on websites. She is a court-appointed special advocate and is certified in crisis counseling and child and infant nutrition. She holds degrees in developmental psychology and philosophy from Georgia State University.