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How to Create Change: Legislation, Regulation & Policy

Having a basic understanding of the three types of policy-making is essential to navigating your nursing advocacy journey in California.

What you'll learn in this section:

  • Get an introduction to the legislative process in California and how it impacts the nursing profession

  • Learn who the predominant regulatory agency is in California and how they implement and enforce changes.

  • Understand the steps needed to create policy change in your institution.

  • Bookmarkable links to quickly find calendars, committees, and meeting times.


Having a working knowledge of policy and politics is essential to creating sustainable change for nurses and patients in California. Every successful campaign starts with understanding how change is created through each of our state's governing bodies.

This section of the Advocacy Institute Guide will give you a basic understanding of the three types of policy-making:

  • legislation,

  • regulation, and

  • policy.

Each policy arena operates differently, influencing how you advocate, the methods you use, and who you will need to influence in order to see sustainable change.

Introduction to Legislative Process in California

Legislation sits at the top of the hierarchy of change. California Senators and Assemblymembers, often referred to as 'Legislators' or 'the California Legislature', make decisions that affect hundreds of thousands of people just like you.

From tobacco and agriculture to public health and the nursing profession, legislation can affect multiple industries within a single bill.

When the California Legislature introduces new legislation, it will either be introduced in the first or the second year of a two-year legislative cycle, depending on the complexity and/or potential impact of the bill. However, each bill will follow the same legislative process.

Understanding the broad process of how a bill becomes law will demonstrate where you, other nurses, and the public have opportunities to advocate.