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101 Chambers Review

1284 words - 6 pages

James Taylor
State and Local Government

Review of 101 Chambers written by Peverill Squire and Keith E. Hamm
Squire and Hamm begin their writings with introducing the reader to the historical lineage of American legislatures and their evolution from colonial days to the modern government. The colonial institutions "have greatly influenced the design of the new Congress under the Constitution" (Squire and Hamm 34). The bicameral system had its originations in colonial governments and the original colonial constitutions had a large impact on the future constitutions.
The bicameral legislation structure that is now common in the United States began in the colonial era. The ...view middle of the document...

Squire and Hamm discussed how the modern day legislatures in the United States come from common ancestors and the evolution from the unicameral system to the bicameral. The authors also show how the idea of institutional diffusion occurred with one state beginning to form a constitution and structure, then others following suit soon after in most cases.
Member service longevity is not a trend that can be easily compared among states due to conflicting constitutional laws and the ability to move into higher elective offices. When comparing state governments to Congress, the states have a higher turnover rate because there are two sources of turnover that the Congress does not have to deal with. One is that certain state chambers are described as springboard states, where the representatives have a better chance of gaining a higher elected office than other states do. When the legislator has a chance to rise in the government there tends to be a higher turnover rate. These legislators "also tend to be more responsive to constituents on policy preferences than are legislators in other sorts of chambers" (Maestas 2000). Term limits also play a large role in the turnover rates in state governments compared to that of Congress' rates. States that have term limits seem to have higher rates due to the fact that "legislators in term-limited legislatures are less obliged to focus on their constituents and more attentive to concerns beyond their districts" (Carey, Moncrief, Niemi, and Powell 2003). Turnover rates were high when the state governments were first formed and "available evidence suggests that legislative turnover rates did not begin to decline in most states until well into the twentieth century, lagging behind the trend evidenced several decades earlier in the U.S. House" (Squire and Hamm 142).
I believe that states that have a higher turnover rate do not provide adequate legislation for the citizens they represent in comparison to states that have a lower turnover rate. States that have a lower rate I believe provide legislation that provides specifically what the voters are needing. Most legislators would like to continue their political career into a higher elected office but those in lower rate states will focus on their represented more than those that have the ability or the need to move to a higher office. Those in term-limited offices must always be looking toward the future and what they are going to do after their term is up.
I will test this theory by categorizing the states into two categories. One category will be composed of the states that are classified as springboard states and those that have term limits written into their constitutions. The other categories will be the states that do not fit into either of those categories. I will then...

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