direct legislation, good governance, American states
The citizen legislator is both a controversial and recurring phenomenon of interest in political science research. A longstanding concern for the discipline has been whether or not involvement of the public in the lawmaking process is an asset or a liability to quality governance. This study explores the desirability of citizen legislating in the American states. A four dimensional index is created that includes empirical indicators of "substantive" and "procedural" governance. These indicators include voter turnout, fiscal health, the ideological distance between government and the citizenry, and the diversity of a state's interest group system. The total number of initiatives and popular referendums that appear biennially within each of the fifty states is employed as the key explanatory variable to capture the degree of citizen legislating that is occurring in the states between 1980 and 2000. A random-effects generalized least squares regression reveals that higher ballot measure counts are statistically and substantively associated with better quality governance, indicating that citizen legislation is a quality input into the political system. Key control variables such as divided government, interparty competition, citizen ideological extremism, state legislative term limits, and legislative professionalism also tell particularly poignant stories about the road to good governance.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Milita, Kerri, "Taking The Initiative: Exploring The Influence Of Citizen Legislating On Good Goverance In The American States" (2009). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 4116.