Legislative organization theory and committee preference outliers in state senates

D. W. Prince, L. Marvin Overby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations

Abstract

Recently, several studies of Congress and the state legislatures have found evidence to support the information theory of legislative organization, that is, that legislatures develop committees whose characteristics reflect those of the parent body so as to acquire unbiased policy and political information. However, most of these studies have been conducted on the lower, larger legislative chambers. Senates, as smaller bodies that often follow the lead of legislation originating in their lower chambers, may have less need for unbiased information, perhaps allowing those bodies to develop more outlying, unrepresentative committees. We test this hypothesis in 42 state senates and find that unrepresentative committees also tend to be the exception in these upper chambers. Furthermore, as shown in previous studies of state house committees, the frequency of committee outliers in state senates appears to be idiosyncratic, with cultural, political, and institutional variables being unable to account for their observed patterns. While results support the information theory of legislative organization, evidence of outliers among party delegations on committees in these senates provides some support for the party-dominant theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-87
Number of pages20
JournalState Politics and Policy Quarterly
Volume5
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Political Science and International Relations

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