The Federal Register – an important tool for communicating with policymakers
In the broadest terms, there are two levels of advocacy at both the state and federal level. The first level (and the one that most folks are familiar with) is legislative – that is, advocacy to pass laws. The second level, regulatory advocacy, occurs after laws are passed. Laws often contain broad outlines for policies that the legislature would like to implement – for example, a policy that creates a quality rating system for child care providers. Those large concepts must be fleshed out and implemented through agency regulations – also called rule-making. The rule-making process is where people decide the details of who will rate child care providers and the criteria on which they will be rated.
At the federal level, proposed rules and rule changes must be published in the Federal Register before they are implemented. The Federal Register is published each business day. It serves as the Federal government’s daily journal and informs citizens of their rights and obligations as well as benefits and opportunities for funding. Citizens have the right to comment on every proposed rule or rule change, and agencies must respond to those comments when proposals are finalized. In short, the Federal Register is a single-stop, easily searchable, transparent communication method for members of the public to communicate with federal policymakers and with each other around important regulations that affect our daily lives.
The Children’s Campaign has recently commented on a range of proposed rules at the federal level, including opposing a weakening of school food nutrition standards, opposing the addition of work requirements for food assistance programs, protecting the consumer protections of the Affordable Care Act, and protecting access in the Medicaid program. This work is ongoing. We are currently following the rule-making process related to changes to 2020 Census questions (which we will highlight in next week’s KidsFlash) and we recently submitted comments related to proposed changes to Title X Family Planning funding. We encourage you to exercise your right as citizens and follow and comment on changes in the Federal Register. Make your voice heard!