The Structure & Processes of the Legislature – And Our Role
- Legislators and the Governor work hard to make friends in their districts, raise money for their campaigns, and get elected. It is important that arts advocates get involved in the campaigns of candidates of all parties so legislators will be our friends. The Legislature has a Senate (67 members) and a House of Representatives (134 members). You live in the district of one Senator and one Representative.
- There are many issues to be discussed and voted on each year, so the House and Senate divide into committees, just like most nonprofit boards do, to get most of their work done. The Chairs of the committees have the most power, thus, MCA works to educate the Chairs about arts issues.
- During the legislative session, the state’s budget (including the arts budget) is split into pieces and sent to the committees to be discussed and voted upon. MCA pays the most attention to the committees that work on the arts. This happens in odd-numbered years.
- In both the House and Senate, once committees decide how much money they will spend, they send their piece to the “floor” so that the whole legislature can vote on it. This is another good time to call or write your legislators to ask them to support arts funding.
- The Senate and the House then have to agree with each other in a conference committee. MCA tries to help them to agree on a favorable amount for the arts.
- When the Legislature is done, the budget goes to the Governor to sign. MCA also works to educate the Governor about the arts. When the budget is signed, we are finished for the year. The money goes to the State Arts Board and Regional Arts Councils, who make grants all over the state.
What did your Legislators from the 2013-2014 session have to say about the arts?
MCA is a highly effective non-partisan statewide arts advocacy organization whose mission is to ensure the opportunity for all people to have access to and involvement in the arts. MCA organizes the arts community and lobbies the State Legislature and Congress on issues pertaining to the nonprofit arts.
During legislative sessions, our statewide network of advocates spring to action to contact our legislators through phone calls, letters, visits, and emails. This communication allows legislators to vote on arts issues knowing that their constituents believe the arts are important.