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Title: How Groups Write the Law: An Empirical Analysis of Group Influence in American State Legislatures
Authors: Kroeger, Mary Alice
Advisors: McCarty, Nolan M.
Contributors: Politics Department
Keywords: interest groups
state politics
Subjects: Political science
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation empirically examines the role that organized groups play in drafting legislation in U.S. state legislatures. Using a large dataset, new data, and a variety of empirical tests, I measure the distribution of power across actors within and outside of legislatures. First, I examine the predictors of model legislation sponsorship within state legislatures. Using textual analysis to compare model bills with introduced and enacted state bills from 1995-2014, I detect the use of model bills in state legislatures. I test predictions derived from a model of strategic interaction between a group and legislature under varying legislative resources, ideological distance, and policy area complexity. Using variation across legislative bodies and across legislators, I test claims that legislators under greater resource constraints rely more heavily upon model legislation given the ease of introducing a prepackaged bill. Since the universe of model legislation is not well-defined, I use a unique reporting institution to examine the extent to which legislation originates from groups. In the California state legislature, extra-legislative groups that write legislation and secure a legislator to author the bill may be listed as sponsors. Data on group sponsorship come from bill analyses and extend from 1993-2014. This unstudied group tactic is frequently used: 37% of bills introduced and 59% of bills that become law list an extra-legislative sponsor. Group sponsorship is significantly related to passage, even after matching on a number of covariates. Also, legislators use fewer group bills and substitute out of group bills as they gain more experience. The final chapter of the dissertation explores the systematic changes that bills undergo as they pass through the legislature. I find that as the distance between a sponsor and median legislator increases, the original bill is altered more extensively. By examining how 199,200 bills change throughout the legislative process in various state legislatures, I study which actors' preferences are prioritized in legislative outcomes. In the first two chapters, I find that group input serves as an integral part of a legislative portfolio and the agenda-setting stage of legislative decision-making. The final chapter finds that legislators' bills change in systematic ways.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Politics

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