The Context of Legislating: Constraints on the Legislative Process in the United States, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Context of Legislating

Constraints on the Legislative Process in the United States, 1st Edition

By Shannon Jenkins


136 pages

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The Context of Legislating provides a much-needed examination of how the rules, resources, and political conditions within and surrounding different institutions raise or lower the costs of legislating. Using data tracking over 1,100 legislators, 230 committees and 12,000 bills introduced in ten state lower chambers, Shannon Jenkins examines how political conditions and institutional rules and resources shape the arc of the legislative process by raising the costs of some types of legislative activity and lowering the costs of others. Jenkinstraces these important contextual effects across the legislative process, examining bill introduction, committee processing and floor passage of bills in these legislatures. The analysis reveals that institutional variables shape the legislative process on their own, but they also have important interactive effects that shape the behavior of actors in these chambers. After tracing these effects across the legislative process, the book concludes by examining the practical implications of these analytical findings. How can the rules of institutions be designed to create effective legislatures? And what do these findings mean for those who seek to shape the policies produced by these institutions?

Understanding of how the context of legislating shapes the outputs of legislatures is a critical element of understanding legislatures that has been sorely missing. An original and timely resource for scholars and students researching state legislatures and state politics.


'Increasingly, American political scientists are recognizing the advantages of comparative study at the state level. Shannon Jenkins has produced a study that advances our knowledge of how the institutional and political context—the rules, structures and partisan arrangements—influence the making of law in our states. It is a welcome addition to the new research on state legislatures.' -Gary Moncrief, University Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Boise State University

Table of Contents

1. The Context of Legislating

2. Why Context Matters

3. Initiating Legislation

4. Committee Processing

5. What Happens Next

6. How Context Shapes the Legislative Process and Why It Matters

About the Author

Shannon Jenkins is Chair and Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Her research focuses on state and local politics, with a focus on decision-making in state legislatures and state and local political parties.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Government / Legislative Branch
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Government / Local