A member of the United States House of Representatives has introduced a bill that aims to compel the federal government to provide funding and personnel for a countrywide toothbrushing program targeting young children in the 3-6 years age bracket. This bill has been triggered by the realization that a substantial number of children in this age group have oral cavities due to poor brushing habits. Available literature demonstrates that children in this age group are likely to be affected by dental caries, leading to poor quality of life outcomes and loss of school time (Andoa et al., 2015). Since dental caries can be effectively prevented and controlled, the House member aims to introduce legislation that, if passed into law, will require the federal government to commit $100 million annually toward a countrywide toothbrushing program for young children.
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Steps in Legislation Development
The first step of the legislative process requires the member to draft the bill and introduce it to the floor of the House as the sponsor of the bill (Longest, 2010). In drafting the bill, the member must ensure that all the relevant issues associated with the public health issue are captured and properly documented. In the example provided, such issues may include oral cavity prevalence among young children, consequences of dental caries, and associated healthcare and economic costs (Andoa et al., 2015). Once the bill is introduced into the floor of the House, it is given a legislative number and referred to the House Committee with jurisdiction over the principal issue of legislation, in this case, the Public Health Committee.
Once the bill is referred to the relevant committee, the chairman of the committee must decide on when the hearings related to the bill will commence and the composition of the subcommittee that will be charged with the responsibility of holding sessions aimed at discussing the issues raised in the bill. After the bill is discussed and reviewed at the subcommittee level, the Public Health Committee will arrange for a special sitting that aims to amend or make changes to the original bill based on member contributions and feedback from relevant stakeholders in the health sector (Longest, 2010). Here, the sponsor needs to invite professionals in oral health to provide their insights and add weight to the issues raised. The Committee members will then vote to accept or reject the amendments and changes, after which the bill is tabled on the floor of the House once the Committee staff members write a report to describe the intent of the legislation, legislative history, impact on existing laws and programs, as well as how Committee members voted for the bill (Kuchta, Gilbreath, Gilman, & Weiler, 2006).
The next main step is for the Speaker of the House to lead a House floor action on the bill, where the legislation is debated by members of the House, amended in case of need, and sent to the final passage process. Here, it is important to note that House members are free to provide an amendment to the bill once they obtain consent from the Rules Committee, which is then debated by other members for adoption or rejection (Longest, 2010).
All amendments to the bill and subsequent passage must garner a majority vote to be accepted, after which the bill is referred to the other chamber (Senate) for amendment, approval, or rejection in what is commonly referred to as conference committee actions on the proposed legislation (Longest, 2010). The potential for the bill to pass this step is dependent on whether both chambers (House and Senate) reach an agreement, hence ensuring that no substantial differences exist between the two versions of the bill. Once the conference report is approved by the two chambers, the last step in the legislation process involves sending the final bill to the President to be signed into law if no considerations or justifications arise to veto it.
Andoa, Y., McMahon, A.D., Conway, D.L., Ball, G.E., McIntosh, E., & Macpherson, L.M.D. (2015). Cost analysis of a national toothbrushing program. PLoS ONE, 10(8), 1-18.
Kuchta, K., Gilbreath, A., Gilman, C., & Weiler, A. (2006). The legislative process and the kidney care quality and improvement act of 2005. Nephrology Nursing Journal, 33(2), 229-232.
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Longest, B.B. (2010). Health policymaking in the United States (5th ed.). Chicago, IL: Health Administration Press.