MOST Policy Initiative is based at the University of Missouri, but also exist as an independent non-profit corporation. In 2022, we will transition our employees away from the University of Missouri and work independently through the 501(c)(3) organization.
Lobbying vs. Engagement
Regardless of if we’re employed by the university or nonprofit organization, MOST Policy Initiative is not a lobbying organization. Our purpose is to serve as a boundary spanning institution between science and policy at the state and local levels by providing resources, fostering relationships, and showcasing collaborative solutions.
In order to avoid lobbying, we follow guidelines outlined by the Missouri Ethics Commission.
- We will provide information to lawmakers at their request, by testifying for informational purposes, or through publishing public facing documents that do not take a political stance on proposed legislation (per Missouri statute 105.470.5);
- Fellows will be screened for their ability to remain open-minded, objective, and non-partisan, and upon beginning their work with the Missouri General Assembly, they will sign a code of conduct to serve as independent science advisors absent of personal political views;
- Our non-governing advisory board will contain members representing the major political parties, as well as a member from both legislative chambers. We will have frequent conversations with these members and other members of party and chamber leadership in order to gain feedback on our program and assure that we are not compromising our non-partisan role.
Identifying Knowledge Gaps
MOST Policy Initiative works collaboratively with policy-makers and the scientific community to determine priority topics and to identify knowledge gaps. We do not offer unsolicited scientific advice to lawmakers. Rather, we take requests for information from lawmakers through the Missouri Science & Technology Policy Fellows Program. When working with scientists, we encourage them to build relationships with elected officials and leaders in order to understand where science can most effectively inform policy discussions.
Sharing Scientific Information
Upon request, we share scientific information with policy-makers through the following media.
- Science Notes – Short (1-2 pg.) briefs that cover the fundamental scientific principles behind a piece of legislation and discuss limitations to our knowledge or any potential bias.
- Public Testimony – We testify for informational purposes during committee hearings on bills for which we have written science notes.
- Public Comment – We draft public comment statements to provide an example to scientists statewide who may be interested in submitting comments on a proposed rule.
- Workshops – In the future, we hope to host workshops for legislative staff to build capacity for obtaining scientific information related to pieces of legislation.
- Science Policy Reports – We have identified four priority scientific topics for the state of Missouri and conducted a landscape analysis to assess current knowledge, community action, and engagement opportunities for the scientific community. We will update these documents annually and release a Science Report for the state.