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Suggested Quaker Voice Working Group Responsibilities and Procedures

(adapted from session on Working Groups, May 27, 2021)

Work Group Responsibilities:

The Working Group as a whole should prioritize possible issues and specific legislation to pursue in a given year and approve a priority work list at the Quaker Voice Annual Meeting (often in November).  Criteria for choice may include:

(a) relevance to Friends’ testimonies
(b) shared commitment to the issue
(c) feasibility of a legislative solution
(d) prospect of support from legislators
(e) prospect of support from allied groups.

Make decisions during the legislative session about whether to support, oppose, or attempt to modify legislation relating to the working group.  This is often done in consultation with allied groups in a coalition working on a bill.

In coordination with the Legislative Advocate, decide on Alerts to be sent either to all on the Quaker Voice Alert list (over 200 Friends) or to those in selected legislative districts (whose legislators may be key to a particular bill).  Coordinate with the Legislative Advocate about who drafts the Alert and who sends it out (currently on Action Network).

When feasible, members may research, develop talking points, and testify, lobby, or sign in PRO in support of specific bills that support the working group’s objectives or goals, coordinating with the Legislative Advocate, who is often the one to testify or lobby.

Concerns and issues that lead to participation in a working group may arise as either personal leadings of individual Friends or leadings from meetings or worship groups.

Levels of involvement may vary as individual Friends are led to participate; some Friends may be led to work on only one issue within a policy area, others may embrace a broader range of issues.  Ideally, working group members will gain a basic understanding of all or most of the priority issues of the working group.

Meetings of one or more members of the working group may be arranged with legislators in their home districts (usually out of session) — a useful technique.  Incorporating Friends from other working groups is helpful, especially if the legislator in question is key to one of their bills.

General procedures:

Website: Develop content for the working group page of the website and keep it up to date!

Working Group Meetings: Set up meetings of the Working Group and the Legislative Advocate; usually these have been at least monthly during legislative session, and as needed during the rest of the year (but likely monthly again, starting in August or September in preparation for finalizing priorities at the Quaker Voice Annual Meeting).

Note that legislative sessions are “long” in odd-numbered years, running for 105 consecutive days from January through most of April.  Sessions in even-numbered years (like the next session in 2022) are “short,” 60 consecutive days from January through early March.  Cut-offs for passing bills out of policy committees, passing out of the house of origin, and similarly in the second house, are different in long and short sessions (and rather tight in the short sessions).  See the leg.wa.gov site for details, although some of this information doesn’t appear until a session is about to start.

Roundtable: An annual face-to-face meeting of the working group, sometimes called a roundtable, can be an open-ended opportunity to share concerns about the work of the working group and introduce issues that might be pursued during the next legislative session.  Ideally, tentative priorities can be arrived at during this meeting. And, of course, such a meeting is an opportunity for members of the working group to get to know each other.  Eastside, University, and Tacoma Friends meetinghouses have been convenient locations for these and similar gatherings.

Membership: Normally, Friends will constitute the primary membership of the working group, but others may be included for their expertise.

Contacts: The Working Group Clerk keeps an email list of all working group members, which facilitates meeting announcements and distribution of notes.

Notes: Meeting notes should be kept and circulated within the working group.

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