American Politics Research
Research on policy reinvention tends to focus on whether policies become more or less comprehensive over time while neglecting to explain copying policy language verbatim. We argue that the extent to which lawmakers reinvent policy depends on the resources available to them. Lawmakers serving in more professional state legislatures have greater capacity to reinvent policies. In contrast, lawmakers serving in less professional settings are more likely to copy policy language. As evidence, we gather bill texts of 12 policies that diffused across the 50 states between 1982 and 2014. Using cosine similarity scores to measure language copying, we find that less professional legislatures copy more text from previous adopters, and that the likeliest culprit is a lack of funding for staff assistance. The findings have implications for states’ ability to amend policies to suit their own citizens’ needs.
Hansen, Eric; Jansa, Joshua M.; and Gray, Virginia. Copy and Paste Lawmaking: Legislative Professionalism and Policy Reinvention in the States. American Politics Research, 47, 4: 739-767, 2018. Retrieved from Loyola eCommons, Political Science: Faculty Publications and Other Works, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1532673X18776628
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