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Summer 2 2013 - 94465 - PA383C - Policy Development

Legislative Development: from Ideas to Options to Legislation

Instructor(s): Wasem, Ruth E.
Unique Number: 94465
Day & Time: MW 6:00 pm -9:45 pm
Room: Washington DC
Waitlist Information:For LBJ Students: UT Waitlist Information
Course Overview

This course acquaints students with how public policy develops and is adopted in the American governmental system. It is normally taken during the first year. The course helps students understand the different settings in which policy develops and the factors that influence its development. Each section of the course uses different substantive policy concerns such as social security, school desegregation, resource and environmental regulation, and national health programs to explore how individuals and institutions initiate and/or give legitimacy to public policy, including the executive and legislative branches, the courts, interest groups, and individual citizens. The course also covers the dynamics of the policy process by focusing on the roles of and relationships among various levels of government and the concepts and models used to describe these aspects of policy development. The role of ideas, concepts, and formal methods of analysis in policy development is discussed. Reading assignments and class discussion focus on case studies, legislative hearings, policy-issue briefs, court decisions, and theoretical works which highlight and explain the development of particular public policies.

Section Description


Participants will work through the process of transforming policy ideas into legislative language. Successful participants will be able to analyze legislative provisions and draft legislative proposals that can be converted into bill language. They will also be able to critique legislative provisions for impact and unintended consequences.

Brief Description

The course will open with an overview of legislative development and the various ways policy ideas are whittled into legislative language. The emphasis will be on converting options into statutory provisions, not on legislative rules and procedures. it will cover the basic principles and key elements of legislative development.

The second part of the course will explore case studies of legislative development in selected policy areas (including but not limited to):  employment policy, global health policy, immigration policy, trade policy, and welfare policy. These issue areas will be used to illustrate the various approaches to legislative development, such as initiative of executive branch, priority of a legislator; advocated by interest group, driven by public opinion,  and responding to judicial rulings.

The third and final part of the course will engage the participants in drafting a legislative proposal on an issue of their choosing (approved in advance). They will gather the relevant census and administrative data, current statutory and case law, regulations, and other key resource materials (e.g. U.S. Government Accountability reports, Congressional Budget Office analysis and think tank research studies) as background for their legislative analysis. While each participant will draft their own bill or legislative provision, the class as a group will engage in assessing the impact and potentially unintended consequences of the bill or legislative provision.

This class will be held in Washington, DC, exact location TBD.