Definition: A law that has been enacted by a legislative body (such as Congress or a State's general assembly). Legislation may, for example, create a program or an agency, mandate an action (such as developing an interagency workgroup), or prohibit an action. Legislation can take various forms, such as authorizations and appropriations.
Authorization: Allows for the creation or continuation of a program, agency, or other function and may set a maximum for funding it can receive.
Appropriation: Sets aside money the government can spend on a program or agency.
Programs whose authorizing legislation includes an appropriation are referred to as mandatory programs. Those that are subject to the annual appropriations process are referred to as discretionary programs.
Example: Legislation passed in Colorado that required collaboration among child and family serving agencies, including local interagency memoranda of understanding to coordinate services.
Why you may want to consider legislation:
- Is fully backed by the force of law
- Provides greater sustainability than other policy approaches because of the difficulty in amending or removing legislation
- Generally has a greater reach than policy approaches such as multiparty agreements and internal policies and procedures
- Could be secured at the Federal, State, county, city, or tribal levels
Why you may not want to consider legislation:
- The final result could be different from what you intended because the process is external to your organization
- Proposed legislation often is not passed by the legislature or signed by an executive official such as the President or governor
- The process to enact legislation may be lengthy and resource-intensive
Other points to consider:
- Determine if your organization or partnership has the resources (including staff time and funding) and expertise to undertake this type of effort
- Determine whether any laws or other policies affect your or your partners' ability to participate in the legislative process
- Assess whether there is enough political or community support for your issue
- Research whether there are data to support your proposed legislation