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USC / Political Science / POLI 374 / What does federalism offer as advantages?

What does federalism offer as advantages?

What does federalism offer as advantages?


I. Federalism

What does federalism offer as advantages?

a. Offers Advantages

i. Ability to handle more programs at a more local level

ii. Ability to handle problems differently across the country

iii. Centralized policy works well in some policy areas

1. Drinking age

iv. Decentralized policy works well in other policy areas

1. Speed limits

v. More access points for citizens; venue shopping

b. Offers disadvantages

i. Cost shifting 

ii. Competition (sometimes good, though can be bad for individual  states)

II. General Structure of Government 

a. As a result, we have a complex policy­making process

b. There are a lot of access points for those who wish to influence policy c. And a lot of veto points in the policymaking process

What does federalism offer as disadvantages?

i. Requires a lot of consensus­building to accomplish anything

ii. Our process has a status­quo bias

III. Legislative branch

a. Legislatures

i. U.S Congress

1. Bicameral national legislature

ii. State legislatures = 50

1. Every state bicameral with one exception

iii. Local Councils

b. These Chambers operate under generally majority rule principle i. In order to get a piece of legislation passé, need to build a coalition of supporters

ii. Filibuster in Senate

c. Important institutional features

i. Professionalism

ii. Short Election Cycles

d. Professional vs. Citizen Legislatures

What is the meaning of the general structure of government?

i. US Congress­ professional legislature

ii. MC view it as a full­time jobs

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2. In 2013, 159 days in session

3. In session every month of the year

iii. Paid like a full­time job (174,000)

iv. Staff support the legislators 

1. House member allowed ~ 18 staffers

e. State legislatures

i. A lot of variation in days in session, salaries, and staff

ii. Session length: 12 month (NY, MI, PA) to 1.5 (UT, NM)

iii. Salary 95,000 in CA to $100 in NH

iv. Staff: 17 per legislator in CA to <1 in NH, VT, and ND

f. Why does this matter?

i. Potential implications for legislative capacity

1. Innovative policy solutions

2. Productivity

3. Expertise in policymaking

a. Process

ii. Potential implications for ability to identify

g. Short election Cycles

i. US House: 2 years; US Senate 6 years

ii. State legislatures: 2­4

h. Why does this matter?

i. Accountability

1. We get to evaluate legislative candidates frequently

2. Cannot do too much damage in short time

ii. Short time horizons

1. Do not necessarily focus on long term goals in 

policymaking or think through all of the long term 


2. Want something that they can sell to their constituents next  Don't forget about the age old question of When does fm radio become popular?
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IV. Legislative Term Limits

a. Term limitations

i. 15 States

ii. 6 years­12 year limits

iii. Lifetime vs. Consecutive bans

b. Why does this matter?

i. Eliminates the possibility of career in chamber

1. Fresh policy ideas

2. Short­term solutions

3. Severs ties with

a. Special interests

b. Constituents

4. Loss of legislative expertise

ii. Interactions with other policy actors

V. Legislative Process

a. Where do we get ideas for a bill originate?

i. Political parties

ii. Constituents 

iii. Interest groups 

iv. President

b. But, only members of Congress can introduce bills

i. Bill introduced

ii. Referred to a committee and subcommittee

iii. Rules Committee (House Only)

iv. Floor

v. Other Chambers

vi. Conference Committee

vii. President’s desk

c. Committee Referral

i. Role of the Speaker/Majority Leader

1. Decides to which committee(s) If you want to learn more check out Why did king philip's war happen?
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a. Has some discretion, especially with complex bills

d. Subcommittee Referral

i. The substantive committee

e. Most bills don not make it past this point

f. Rules Committee

i. Act as an arm of speaker and majority leadership

ii. Places a “rule” on the bill

1. Rule governs debate length, amendments

2. Also, grants privilege to bills (gets them on the floor)

g. Three primary kinds of rules

i. Open Rule 

ii. Closed Rule

iii. Restricted/structured rule

h. Senate Floor

i. Terms of debate and amendments are negotiated informally 1. Unanimous Consent Agreement

ii. Unless negotiated, no limits on debate or amendments

1. No general germaneness rule for amendments

i. Obstructing legislation on the Senate floor Don't forget about the age old question of What is gregor mendel's known work?

i. Filibuster

1. Cloture Motion

a. 3/5th vote (usually 60 votes) since 1975

2. Issue a “hold” 

j. Conference Committees:

i. Special type of joint committee used to reconcile differences  between bill versions passed in the House and in the senate k. The president can:

i. Sign the bill into law

ii. Can veto a bill within 10 days

iii. Can decide to do nothing

l. Legislative process is biased toward status quo and requires a lot of pieces  to fall in place

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