Policy Brief

The assignment for this week requires that you identify a social policy – ideally, the policy that will be the basis for the Policy Brief that you will develop throughout the course of this module. The social policy will likely be a federal or state policy, although occasionally, other types of policies are used (examples: local / township policies, homeowners’ association policies, etc.).


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If you would like to utilize a policy other than a federal or state policy, please obtain your Instructor’s approval first. The federal or state policy that you select can be a bill (a policy that has not yet become law) or a law (a bill passed by both chambers of Congress that has become a law).

To identify the bill or law you wish to utilize, you can make use of some of the links posted to your Moodle course for this week. The links include:

Congress.gov OR GovTrack.us
Your own state’s legislature. In Illinois, this is ilga.gov. For other states, simply conduct a search (for instance: Wisconsin legislature) to identify the legislature’s / General Assembly’s website

Utilize the links to navigate to your chosen website. Enter search terms to help identify a policy in which you might have an interest. For instance, if you wanted to find a policy about guns, you might search the keywords “Gun” and “Firearm.”


When you see a policy that might be of interest to you, click on the title of the proposed legislation (H.R. means House or Representatives, S. means Senate. The numbers of the bills are given sequentially based on when bills are filed after the beginning of the present, two-year Congress). Qualities that might make the bill more interesting for you:

You can examine the number of co-sponsors the bill has. A bill with more co-sponsors is more likely to be acted upon
You can examine the number of “Actions” taken with regard to the bill (its legislative history). Actions include such events as being assigned to a Committee, being marked up within a Committee, being voted on by a Committee, being debated, being amended, etc. A bill with more “Actions” might be more likely to be acted upon
A bill with at least some bipartisan support

Once you have found a bill you think might work, you can begin working on your draft. The draft due this week has the following sections. These comprise Part A and the beginning of Part B of your final paper, the Policy Brief. You’ll submit a new section of the Policy Brief most weeks of this course. You’ll receive feedback from your instructor each week. You are strongly encouraged to make corrections to your sections as you receive feedback and not to wait until the last week to start – corrections often take longer than expected. For Week 8, you’ll compile your corrected sections into the final Policy Brief. For this week:

1) Describe the policy that you are analyzing. Here, READ THE BILL’S TEXT and provide a very brief summary. If the bill is large / complex, containing multiple Titles, with your Instructor’s approval, you can limit your attention to only a portion of the bill / some of the Titles.


2) Indicate whether or not related bills have been introduced in the past (or in the present term) and whether or not they have been enacted (if there are many, this does not need to be exhaustive)

3) Identify actions taken on this bill (use the “Actions” tab on Congress.gov for federal policies)

4) Identify the social problem that the policy under analysis is intended to address.

Describe the social problem the policy is intended to address: For instance, is it homelessness? Drug and alcohol abuse? Immigration?
Explain to which of the 12 Grand Challenges (if more than one, which ones) this problem pertains. Use the website and reference the website – http://grandchallengesforsocialwork.org/grand-challenges-initiative/12-challenges/
The final paper will also require that you defend the claim that this is a human rights issue. Because you have not yet studied human rights, you are not expected to write this response yet. However, be sure to come back and add this discussion before the final paper is due.

I prefer to use a bill in Illinois on gun laws or human sex trafficking

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