Legislative Organization and the Second Face of Power: Evidence from U.S. State Legislatures
Anzia, Sarah F., and Molly C. Jackman. 2013. “Legislative Organization and the Second Face of Power: Evidence from U.S. State Legislatures.” Journal of Politics 75 (1): 210-224.
A vast literature argues that the majority party in most legislatures enjoys a policymaking advantage through its access to gatekeeping institutions that let it block bills from reaching the floor. However, agenda-setting institutions vary substantially across legislatures. We propose that this variation should have demonstrable consequences for the majority party’s influence. In this article, we develop hypotheses about the institutional features of legislatures that enable the majority party to block bills. Then, we canvass all 99 U.S. state legislative chambers to measure whether those institutions are present and test whether they lower the rate at which the majority party is rolled. We find that in legislatures where majority-appointed committees can decline to hear bills or decline to report them to the floor, or where the majority leadership can block bills from appearing on the calendar, majority roll rates are significantly lower than in legislatures where those veto points are absent.
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