Idea: I think it might be impactful for someone to run a call-your-representative / public comment newsletter. I’m imagining something pretty simple: EAers (or EA orgs) submit information about pieces of legislation that people should call their reps to support or oppose, or a regulation that people should submit public comment on. Someone collects all those submissions and sends them out in monthly batches to a distribution list, and those people call their lawmakers/make a public comment/etc. I imagine a lot of the process could be automated with Google Forms and a preset email distribution list.

This would obviously be fairly small-scale as a set of actions, but I still think it could be impactful. There are tons of laws that are very small and don’t get much/any press, but matter a lot for EA cause areas. (For example, here are two bills I’ve seen in the last few weeks to support carbon dioxide removal, which is a high priority for many climate change EAers.) And for many representatives, hearing from as few as 5 constituents on something small can make them sit up and take notice. A few calls won’t convince anyone who’s strongly opposed to change their mind, but getting a lawmaker to pay attention to something they’d otherwise ignore can be really important as well — especially for smaller bills that fly under the radar. Since it only takes a few minutes to make a call, the costs would be pretty small and seem unlikely to trade off with more-impactful work.

I imagine doing this for the US, since that’s where I’m from and what I know most about, but perhaps it would be doable in other regions as well.

I’d be very curious to hear what others think of this idea! If there’s interest, I could imagine taking on this project, but I’d also be very happy for someone else to do it instead.

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I like the idea. Why not do it on the forum though? It could be a tag and you could do individual posts for each piece of legislation. People who are willing to call could subscribe to the tag and would be notified when there was a new post with the tag. People could also discuss in the comments if someone disagreed that it was something EAs should support.

I think this could be a great approach, but my concern is that people might not check the forum often enough (or might not check the tag). My personal experience suggests that one email every few weeks with a list of bills to call about all in one place would be better. But of course that might not be true for others!

The forum will send emails for tags you are subscribed to if you set it up that way in the settings. I think I would prefer the idea of getting the bills to call about one at a time (a big list could be imposing), and having the option to discuss, but it  might be too much friction getting people to set that up though (and I guess some might not have forum accounts).

I think this sounds easier than it would likely be in practice:

-there are a lot of topics that could be considered high impact depending on your beliefs, but are very polarised (for example, access to abortion)

-for topics that are less polarised, it can still require specialist knowledge to tell if legislation is likely to help or hurt

-some well-intentioned legislation makes things worse in ways that isn't obvious from reading a headline

Overall it's reasonable for someone to try this - lots of people do things like this, at varying levels of success! - but I wouldn't recommend just anyone do it, I wouldn't label it as an "EA consensus" but rather one person's views about how legislation could improve wellbeing, and I would be prepared for the possibility of this project being net negative or having almost no impact.

These are very reasonable concerns. To address them, I think it might make sense to limit submissions so that only people employed at EA orgs could submit, and only for bills related to their work at the org. Those people would presumably have the specialized knowledge needed to evaluate the legislation, and  most EA orgs aren't advocating for legislation that is polarizing within the community.

Alternately, submissions could stay open to everyone but the person receiving/organizing the submissions could be empowered to ask for more info about the submission, ask for qualifications from the person proposing the idea, or even delete submissions that aren't aligned to current EA priorities (e.g. related to abortion). I'd like to believe that, if the submission form asked folks to only submit things they had a lot of knowledge about, that they would self-monitor.

for many representatives, hearing from as few as 5 constituents on something small can make them sit up and take notice.

Is this true? Is there evidence?

It is surprisingly so. I had interned for a Congressional office years back and they do take letters more seriously than you'd expect, and that's at the national level, let alone a state/local. This is for reasons of imperfect information: everybody's running around so much and resources are so scattered that nobody really has a view of what their voters care about, so the loudest, most organized voices have surprising sway. Especially if it's a non-polarizing issue, this could definitely work. The key is to have a specific bill that you want voted up or down, make it as easy for the office to process as possible.

Sample size: 1 office. I feel like I had conversations with others about how this was surprising and they confirmed with theirs, but I'm not sure.

I've heard this from activists I trust, but can't cite a specific source. That said, this article (https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/03/06/what-calling-congress-achieves) has a paragraph which discusses the impact of calling about small bills (control-F "mud-flap" to find the paragraph).