SPECIAL EDITION: New Voices Kickoff #1!

Elections are over and the 2021 legislatures are set. Your next New Voices campaign kicks off right now.

2020 was quite a year (and for New Jersey and Pennsylvania, it’s not over yet). New Voices had tremendous wins, and we would have seen new laws pass this year if not for certain outside forces that shall remain nameless. Among your wins the year: 

  • Colorado updated their law, in place since 1990, to include digital and broadcast media and protect student media advisers.
  • The Virginia legislature approved HB36, protecting college students and advisers.
  • The Hawaii House and New Jersey Senate approved New Voices legislation.
  • The Minnesota House gave preliminary approval to HF 1868.
  • Two Missouri committees approved HB 2317.
  • The Nebraska legislature voted two of three times to approve LB 206.
  • Legislation was introduced in Kentucky for the first time.

And that was before student journalists covered a global public health crisis, widespread protests and an historic election. The arguments against student press freedom have always been invalid; 2020 only served to prove our point. Now, we take this proof back to the state houses.

Three times this week, we’ll send you newsletters with tasks to complete, things to think about and, most importantly, resources to help you get things done. Today we’re talking post-election legislative moves, including some small and easy steps you can take now to get back on your legislators’ radars before things get chaotic. 

What else do you need?

Let us know here

Questions to ask yourself

Was my sponsor re-elected?

Election results are housed on your state’s Board of Elections website. Your state’s elections may not yet have been certified, but unless the vote seems very close the uncertified results will tell you what you need to know. 

General election results may not include races where a candidate won a primary but was unopposed in the general. If you do not see the results for every district, check the primary election results.

Ballotpedia aggregates this information for you, but check to make sure the information is up to date before using.

Does my state do pre-file?

Some states allow or require legislation for the year to be filed before the start of the legislative session, which means you should finalize your bill language now. Pre-filing legislation is a great way for your sponsor to telegraph their commitment to passing this legislation, to you and to the legislative leadership. 

Pre-filing in Texas began today, November 9; it is already underway in Kentucky. Other states may have already begun or be starting soon. Check your state legislature’s website to find out where your state stands.

When does my legislature start?

Tentative start and end dates can be found here. Verify this information with your state legislature’s website or your sponsor.

What conversations can I have between now and the election?

Now is the time to set up a meeting with the bill’s sponsor and/or your local elected officials. Check in with your sponsors to make sure they’re on board to sponsor the bill this year, and talk strategy. If you need a new sponsor, now is the time to identify potential candidates and ask them for meetings. 

Task of the day


Congratulate returning sponsors on their re-election, and introduce New Voices to legislators.

If your sponsors won re-election during the Primary or General elections, send them a letter or email this week congratulating them. Let them know you look forward to working with them again on New Voices legislation, and that you would like to talk with them soon about best steps to move things forward. A template is available in the Resources section, below.

New legislators don’t know any of the background to returning legislation. A letter now will let you introduce the idea of student press freedom, get legislators to like you early on, and save a lot of time later. Your state coalition should send a letter to each and every new legislator congratulating them on their election and introducing yourselves and New Voices. A template is available in the Resources section, below.


Schedule your Zoom-in letter writing session. 

Don’t wait for the legislature to be gaveled in — start your advocacy now.

Lobby days and in-person letter-writing sessions may be difficult to accomplish this year, but that gives you an opportunity to involve advocates from across the state right now. Schedule a Zoom session to write letters to your legislators together. Writing together shows new advocates they aren’t doing this alone, looks great on social media, and gives you an opportunity to share your talking points with your coalition and talk through any questions or concerns. Decide on a date today, and then let all of New Voices know it’s happening. Consider partnering with another state or dropping in to stay hi to advocates from other states. 


Do you only have access to a basic Zoom account and need SPLC to host? Let us know! 

Email Hillary


  • Template letter to your sponsor, whether or not they were up for election this year 
  • Template letter to new state legislators 
  • Never talked to a legislator before? Want to schedule a training for yourself or your state group? Let Hillary know! 

See you Wednesday to talk about bring in partner organizations! 

Share this newsletter!

Forward it to anyone you know who is interested in New Voices, and ask them to sign up themselves here.

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