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DMS Assignment Playbook

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Assignment: Advocating for New Legislation

  • For this assignment, you will be working in small groups ("subcommittees") to write a proposal to suggest new legislation that addresses a specific need of the profession.
  • For the particular requirements of the assignment, please make sure to carefully read the instructions provided by your professor. If you have any questions about the assignment parameters, please contact your professor.  

The Subcommittees

Each subcommittee may be assigned one of the topics below:

  1. Musculoskeletal injuries/disorders
  2. Licensing and certification
  3. Point-of-Care Credentialing
  4. Scheduling (On-Call and Callback)

Each subcommittee will then work on writing a proposal for legislation about the issue as it pertains to the profession.

Researching the Issue: Journals & Databases

Researching Current Legislation

Examine the site for the Virginia legislature and the sites for other state legislatures to find out

  • whether there already may be a bill that addresses your issue
  • whether/how other states may be handling this type of legislation
  • who the players are. This is important because selecting a good potential sponsor for your suggested bill is 70% of the game.  Pick someone who
    • is on the committee where your bill would likely be sent to
    • has a good reputation
    • is from the majority party
    • has some knowledge of the issues you are addressing

To research the law, use the database links below or use individual state legislatures.

NOTEThe law that covers on-call/callback is a Federal law. This law applies to all the states and to all employees who work on an on-call/callback basis. See the attached documents ("Callback pay," and "On-call time") for the text of the laws.

Searching Westlaw: Walkthrough

  • Go to Westlaw
  • On the right hand side of the search box, click the words All Federal.
  • Click the box next to All States. You should not have two boxes checked: All States, and All Federal.
  • Click Save.
  • This will take you back to the main Westlaw page, and now the right hand side of the search box should say All State & Federal.


  • Start with a simple search. You can always create more complex searches later. For this example, we'll use one word: sonography.
  • Type the term in the search box and click the search icon.


  • Now, look at your results page.


  • You will see results split into two sections, one to the right, titled Overview, and one to the left, titled View.
  • The Overview area shows you representative materials for each of the categories in the View area. Unless you find something you really like, you can go directly to the View area.
  • The View area has the following categories:
    • Cases
    • Statutes & Court Rules
    • Regulations
    • Administrative Decisions and Guidance
    • Secondary Sources
    • Briefs
    • Proposed & Enacted Legislation
    • Proposed & Adopted Regulations
    • All Results
  • For your assignment, you may want to look under Cases, Regulations, Proposed & Enacted Legislation, and Proposed and Adopted Regulations. Simply click each link on the left hand side to be taken to materials under the specific category.
  • If you need to further refine your search, see how to conduct searches by following the Westlaw tutorial.


Writing the Proposal

General Tips

  • Decide what your goal is
    • Before you can begin researching and writing you need to figure out exactly what you want to accomplish with this proposal. What is your goal? Be very clear about it. If you can't write your goal in one or two clear sentences, you need to continue working on it until you can define the goal better.
  • Use simple, direct language
    • This is not English composition; it's technical writing, and using direct, plain, and simple language works best. Say exactly what you mean, using short sentences in plain English. 
  • Stress the public benefit angle 
    • When writing your proposal, highlight the public benefit angle. It is not enough to focus on how the proposed legislation would benefit  your particular group; a legislator will want to know how the public at large (especially her constituents) will benefit from the proposed legislature, so make sure you include this information.  
  • Conduct good research
    • If your research is rushed and shallow (from websites, for example), you won't have a good mastery of the topic you are writing about, its history, its impact, etc., and this will be noticeable in your proposal, which will come across as ignorant and shallow.  Before you begin writing the proposal, make sure you know what you're talking about by using the many research resources provided to you.
  • Use your time well
    • Writing a good proposal takes time and planning. Do not rush the work. Plan ahead; create a work calendar, and stay on track.
  • Draft, draft, draft
    • If you write your proposal only once, it will come across as rushed and poorly thought out.  Write and rewrite until you have a product you can be proud of, and have other members of your committee read it and provide feedback.

Proposal Sections

Proposal Sections:
Title page
  • Your title page (and the entire document) must be in APA style. See the section titled "APA Style Format"  for more information.
  • This section is basically an introduction, and provides a general overview of what the problem/issue is. If during the pre-writing phase you worked on expressing your goal clearly in a sentence or two, you should not have a problem here; otherwise, go back and try again to define your goal very clearly. 
  •  This section also states why the goal has not been achieved, and goes over the obstacles that block the goal from being achieved.
  • You will need to anticipate and respond to potential objections to your proposal. To do this,  you must use evidence from studies and other credible material (stay away from websites here, or your credibility will be shot). Here you can also go over effects on stakeholders. How is the issue impacting them negatively, and how will solving it impact them positively? (Statistics are a good tool to deploy here, as they will bolster your argument). 
  • This section is the main part of your document.  Here you define what you want to accomplish and propose how to accomplish it; for example:  "The committee proposes enactment of legislation that will provide a standard for the licensure of sonographers in the state of Virginia."
  • Keep in mind you are selling something to the legislature: your idea.  That's your main job, to sell it.  Your  job is not to decide where the money for solutions will come from, or the details of how to make your idea a reality. So don't go there; let the legislature worry about the details.  You are just providing the idea. 
Enactment (Conclusion)
  • Formal legislative proposals have a final section titled Enactment, in which the drafters of the proposal provide a timeline about how to get the whole thing moving.  You do not have to do that, as you are not writing a formal proposal.  Use this section as a conclusion, to wrap up your proposal, to tie everything up to this point neatly and briefly, and to highlight the negative consequences a delay in enacting legislation will bring to the stakeholders, as well as the positive outcomes to these stakeholders if the legislature moves quickly. 
  • The purpose of a conclusion is to sum up the points you have already made. Do not introduce new points, or facts, or anything that requires a citation.  This is your section, for your ideas only, and only to briefly restate and summarize what you wrote in the other two sections.





APA style format

  • Your entire document has to be formatted in APA style --  this means you have to include everything that is required by the style, except for an abstract, which is not required for this assignment. 
  • See the library's APA playbook here.  Use this playbook's examples to format your citations. 
  • Do not use citation generators, even if they are part of databases. They make mistakes that could cost you points. The librarians do not support citation generators and will not provide assistance with citations obtained via a generator.
  • Reach out to your course librarians for help with learning how to cite.  Try to format the citations on your own and then send them to the librarian for feedback. 
  • For assistance with grammar and style, please visit the Writing Center

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