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How much influence does scientific research have on policy-making?

I learned that legislators are not experts in everything, so lobbyists provide information to legislators when making policy on issues interest groups focus on. But even if this information is provided, how much do legislators take the facts into consideration? #research #politics #presentations #environmental-law #political-issues

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Krista’s Answer

Legislators receive information from multiple sources, including lobbyists. Lobbyists represent their client so the stats will align with the company or organization. A good lobbyist will present both the the pros and cons to a bill because an elected official will certainly ask who is opposed to the bill. In today's political environment, the origins of scientific research are frequently called into question. Keep the focus on your research, have experts testify, and gather allies to build your case. Good luck!
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Kim’s Answer

Wow, what a great question!

When looking at proposed legislation, the first thing one might notice is it is so lengthy it is impossible to read it all! I don't know the direct answer to your question. I can tell you that, many years ago, I was involved with a citizen's group that was trying to stop the licensing of a nuclear plant.

We went to hearings, etc. Beyond the fact that lobbyists attempt to influence legislation, we found that the "bureaucrats" of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board were mostly from the industry. Now, to some degree, this makes sense, because, the material is so technical, very few outsiders would be able to comprehend it. But, our concern was about the various friendships, alliances, and even financial interests these people might have, which, would conceivably cloud their judgment.

Also, beyond the legislature, there are other issues. When the legislature passes a law, they give it to an agency or department, and task them with drafting the specific "rules" as to how the law will be implemented. I am actually about to start a class on Administrative Law, and have started reading the books. They talk about this in great detail. These rulemakers are tasked with doing research, and will, of necessity, rely on the scientists. It's all a very complex and interwoven process.

If you are interested in influencing public policy from a scientific perspective, I think the opportunity exists!

Best of luck,
Kim
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