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Introduction to State Health Policy

Veteran Lawmakers in the Trenches

Advice for New Legislators


The Honorable Dianne White Delisi, Texas State House.

The Honorable Sandy Praeger, Kansas State Senator.

The Honorable Charlie Brown, Indiana State Representative.

John McDonough, former Massachusetts State Senator.

New legislators go almost immediately from their election into legislative sessions where they are besieged by unfamiliar bills, eye-numbing budgets, and fast-talking lobbyists. In this environment they are asked to address important matters, oftentimes with very little knowledge.

To assist new legislators in the freshman year in office, several veteran State lawmakers provided helpful advice.

Diane White Delisi of the Texas State House told lawmakers to know their mission, work to their strengths, and focus on the things that interest them the most. She encouraged them to selectively choose the issues that are worth fighting for and also recommended the importance of a team-oriented, professional staff. She reminded the participants that the best way to know what is going on in health policy is to read everything available. She suggested using Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) and National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) resources and she encouraged everyone to work with a sense of immediacy.

Charlie Brown, Representative from the Indiana House, encouraged lawmakers to keep a diary, listen to both sides of every story and recognize that most health issues are not partisan issues. He also encouraged everyone to learn the difference between common sense and caucus sense and indicated that legislators must make the development of a relationship with their constituents the highest priority.

Sandy Preger, Kansas State Senator, suggested that legislators work to obtain reliable sources and trust their instincts. Senator Preager advocated making decisions based on what the legislators believe to be right.

Finally, John McDonough, former State Senator for the State of Massachusetts, closed the workshop by wishing the legislators in attendance great success, reminding them all to aim high because they have the ability to make incredible things happen.

Current as of March 1999

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Internet Citation:

Introduction to State Health Policy. Workshop Summary, March 19-21, 1999. User Liaison Program, Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, Rockville, MD.

The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.

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