Fall 2018 - 60640 - PA 383C - Policy Development | LBJ School of Public Affairs | The University of Texas at Austin

Fall 2018 - 60640 - PA 383C - Policy Development

Legislative Development: From Ideas to Options to Legislation



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.  The methodology of legislative development will be applied to regulatory implementation.

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.  Regulatory implementation will also be discussed.

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, agricultural policy, immigration policy, trade policy, and voting rights. 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.  Participants collectively will select the legislative issues covered in the final two classes the week before Spring Break, and the professor will assign appropriate readings.  Participants will make two-minute presentations on a legislative issue discussed in the class.

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.

Given the time frame of the class, the 3 parts will not be sequential. More precisely, the discussions of the case studies will overlap with the discussions of the basic principles and key elements of legislative development as well as with the actual drafting of legislative proposals.

Participants will prepare for each session by reading the materials assigned for the topic. The weekly readings are typically four articles, book chapters, or reports. All of the required readings will be available on Canvas or hard copy given to class in advance. Participants will submit a discussion question from the readings for each class and will engage in a discussion of the readings during the sessions.

Written Assignments -- Memoranda

Please submit the memoranda to me electronically by 6 pm on the day of the class in which it is due. Any late assignment will at a minimum receive a one-grade reduction (A to A-).

Two-Minute Statements

Participants will each select a legislative issue that they will be giving a two-minute statement to the class. The topics will be chosen from the case studies so that everyone will have a comparable level of knowledge of the issue.  The week prior to two-minutes (March 28), each participant will draw whether he/she will be arguing pro or con on the issue selected. Participants will be scoring each other on the presentations.

Class Participation

Class participation is a graded course requirement because oral communication and group discernment are essential skills in the public sector.  Diversity of perspectives is welcomed and respected.  Effective participation grows out of thorough preparation, listening to each other, useful questions and comments, and the ability to draw on broader knowledge and experiences.


Grade Allocation


                  Memo defining issue and proposing research design                                                                 10%

                  Memo analyzing options and providing pro/con analysis                                             20%

                  Memo proposing legislative strategy                                                                                         20%

                  Presentation of the legislation (with Dear Colleague letter)                                                   30%

Two-minute Statement                                                                                                           10%          

                  Class participation                                                                                                                 10%


Policy on Class Ethics and Scholastic Integrity

The public deserves analysts, managers, and leaders who demonstrate the highest level of integrity and ethics. Nothing less is expected in this class. Students will abide by the academic rules and regulations established by the University of Texas. In promoting a high standard of academic integrity, the University of Texas broadly defines scholastic dishonesty—basically,

“….all conduct that violates this standard, including any act designed to give an unfair or undeserved academic advantage, such as: cheating, plagiarism, unauthorized collaboration, collusion, falsifying academic records, and misrepresenting facts (e.g., providing false information to postpone an exam, obtain an extended deadline for an assignment, or even gain an unearned financial benefit). Any other acts (or attempted acts) that violate the basic standard of academic integrity (e.g., multiple submissions—submitting essentially the same written assignment for two courses without authorization to do so)….”

Plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty will result in a failure, or grade of "F", for the course. If you have any questions or need further guidance, please refer to: http://www.deanofstudents.utexas.edu/conduct/.


9:00AM to 12:00PM
SRH 3.212/3.221