Nevada SB131 - Steps to Success: Passing a Prescription Reader Law

Utilizing Nevada’s Success as a Roadmap for Enacting Legislation in Your State
This page dedicated to Roderick "Rick" Kuhlmey (1941-2021) who spearheaded this effort and provided these notes.

In May of 2017, Nevada’s State Legislature unanimously passed SB131, a prescription reader bill sponsored by Senator Mo Denis. According to Sen. Denis, the keys to their success in Nevada included having the right legislator to sponsor the bill; working with opposition to work out all issues; and getting supporters to rally for the bill throughout the legislative process.

Find the Right Legislator to Sponsor the Bill
Find a legislator who is compassionate about those who are visually impaired, has the right contacts and trust of lobby groups. In Nevada, Sen. Denis has a long, successful history of working for folks with disabilities.

Identify and Work Out Opposition
Senator Denis worked with the bill drafters to present SB131; worked out the issues the opposition had at the introduction of the bill; and worked to rewrite the bill to satisfy all sides as much as possible.  Sen. Denis had a very good relationship with lobbyists, the Nevada Retailers Association for example. Once the retailers were on board and the issues were worked out, the bill passed unopposed.

Provide Supporters to Rally for the Bill
Support was rallied each time a vote was to be taken by alerting all organizations and individuals via email.  A proposed written request was sent out with the contact information for the Legislators who would be voting.  It is estimated over 3,000 people were alerted every time. People spoke at SB131 meetings and testified for talking prescription readers, providing real-life examples of how important the product was for the safety and quality of their lives.


STRATEGY-Find the right legislator
The ideal legislator is someone who is compassionate for people who are blind, visually and print impaired; has strong relationships with the right groups; has the trust of the potential opposition.  The sponsor can be from either chamber; it could help to have a champion in both chambers, especially on the committee assigned.
Learn about the legislative process in your state
Become familiar with senators and their staff, the different legislative committees (who handles what type of legislation,) and how to get in touch with them

            Recommended action items:
·        Learn how a bill becomes law in your state
·        Learn how to track bills
·        Learn who the key legislators are, their schedules and what committees they serve on
·        Get to know the legislature’s “Constituent Services” as they are an amazing source of information 
·        Meet legislators and get to know them; ask them to back your bill and even co-sponsor it if possible
·        The legislator who introduces the bill can tell you which committee the bill will be sent to.
·        Get to know the members of that committee; make appointments to talk with them
·        Focus on the committee members because if the committee gives the bill a “Do Pass,” the rest of the legislators will generally follow

Strategy-Getting the lobby groups on board
            Identify and work out the issues of those opposing the bill, rewrite the bill to                    satisfy all sides
Recommended action items:
·        Get to know the key players in your State Board of Pharmacy and Retailers Association; ask for their support (which may have to be un-official if they are state employees)
·        Research other organizations that are tasked with providing input to legislators; ask them to assist you to pass your bill (example: a “Silver-haired Legislative Forum” Your Legislator or Constituent Services can help with this.)

Strategy-Engage the community

Build a group of supporters to rally behind the bill
Recommended action items:
·        Contact organizations who will rally their members: Such as Lions, Masons, Kiwanis, Veterans groups, disability organizations, etc. and individuals including family members
·        Never ask an organization for their list of members – instead ask if they will send their members a message you have prepared.
·        Find people who are blind and low vision, recruit them.
·        Keep good notes of all contact made  
·        Provide key talking points so message is consistent
·        Have them testify at legislative sessions

Strategy – Engage the Media

Publicize your cause through media outlets

            Recommended action items:
·        Google local media outlets to send news story ideas, press releases and public service announcements (PSAs)
·        Create list of TV stations, radio stations and newspapers.
·        Call each station and request e-mail address for sending story idea, news release, and/or a PSA (Google each for instructions on how to write a particular format.)                              
·        Create and send news releases and PSAs to the radio station list with bill information, with specific call to action, for example: “Support this bill by calling your legislator at ###-####.”
·        After the bill passes, use media list to send follow up messages about the new law and the availability of prescription readers
·        If you do not have anyone in organization who can make the PSA’s call companies that do and request they make them as a donation to your 501 c 3 organization

 Strategy – Engage Local Businesses

Build a powerful support group made up of many people

Recommended action items:
·        Ask business owners, their employees and their paid lobbyists for their support in the legislature: Pharmacies, Pharmaceutical Supply Companies, Insurance companies, hospitals, nursing homes, senior centers, assisted living facilities, doctors groups, other lobbyists


Stay Organized
Have files and folders for everything
Keep a record of who, what, why and when and the outcome of conversations

Educate your Supporters
Ensure they know the talking points and the importance of being consistent
Be courteous, patient, never get ‘pushy’
Do not take rejection of your message or rudeness personally

Create handouts
Plain, simple, quick and easy to read
Hand out or send to everyone you contact

You’ll have expenses; ask for donations; track everything

After the bill passes
Regulations will need to be written, stay in touch with legislators to assist
You must be involved or a person unfamiliar with the needs of the visually impaired may write regulations that effectively kill your bill

Concentrate on the need for the devices so that people who are visually and print impaired could independently manage their prescription medications.  The legislators appreciated our focusing on the issue that people needed the readers to stay safe and live independently.  (However, in Oregon they used the ADA to their advantage and said they needed state legislation to standardize how their state would observe the federal laws.  So find out if “disability rights” angle is to your advantage or not.)

Testifying for the Bill
Selected persons spoke at legislative committee hearings in favor of SB 131.  Senator Denis spoke first, followed by the demonstration of the reader. The president of the community organization which requested the bill spoke for about three minutes to enhance and wrap up what had been said and to formally request a “Do Pass” vote from the committee, and to thank them for their time and hard work.

Talking with Pharmacies
The owners of the pharmacies or drugstores are the biggest hurdle, as they do not want to spend the money to provide accessible prescription labels. If pharmacists do not want to work with you, ask them to re-read their code of ethics and the oath they take.  Google these so you have them and read them.