Award Date

5-2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Public Affairs

Department

Environmental and Public Affairs

First Committee Member

E. Lee Bernick, Chair

Second Committee Member

Christopher Stream

Third Committee Member

Leonard "Pat" Goodall

Graduate Faculty Representative

David Damore

Number of Pages

203

Abstract

Various authors have analyzed the work of state legislatures during the regular session; however, there is a noticeable void in the study of the functionality of the legislative process during the interim session. The interim session refers to the time span between regular legislative sessions, which varies in duration dependent on the state. It should not be deducted that the lack of research devoted to the interim session evaluation is because the legislative workload is dormant during this period. The findings of this paper support the concept that interim session activity merits evaluation since it is a contributing factor to the cyclical nature of the complete legislative process. Furthermore, the output from the interim session workload comprises a component of the legislative measures evaluated and passed by the legislative body during regular sessions.

While this paper assumes the interim session activity serves a functional purpose, it begs the question of how the importance of the interim session can be understood without evaluating the functionality of the legislative activity that transpires during the interim, or the output of productivity derived from these meetings. The scope of this study, therefore, analyzes the activity of the interim session to establish an enhanced understanding of the process, decision making authority, and productivity of the work that is processed during the interim session. The primary research questions asked in the study are: How do state legislatures process their work during the interim? Furthermore, is the functionality of the interim workload utilized efficiently to produce an output of legislative measures that have a high passage rate?

This study completes a fifty state comparative evaluation of the functionality of processing work during the interim. Initially determined is how legislatures structure their work during the interim by evaluating those attributes thought to contribute to the functionality of the process. Including variables related to session length and number of legislators will assist in the determination if any variation exists among the states' interim processes. Secondly, the study evaluates the productivity of interim sessions through a case study on the five biennial state legislatures. The productivity of the interim session's activity is evaluated by tracking the frequency of the interim committee meetings, output of recommendations by each committee that are introduced as legislative measures the succeeding regular session, and passage rate of those measures in comparison to non-interim derived legislation. Due to the dearth of prior research, the approach to this paper will be largely exploratory and explanatory; and hence is inductive.

Keywords

Interim sessions; Legislative bodies; Legislature; State governments

Disciplines

American Politics | Policy Design, Analysis, and Evaluation | Policy History, Theory, and Methods | Public Administration

Language

English