Spring 2018 - 60660 - PA383C - Policy Development | LBJ School of Public Affairs | The University of Texas at Austin

Spring 2018 - 60660 - PA383C - Policy Development

Legislative Development: From Ideas to Options to Legislation


Restricted to students in the DC Concentration.


This course treats policy development as a "methodology." 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 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. 

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. 

Participants will prepare for each session by reading the materials assigned for the topic. All of the required readings will be available on Canvass or hard copy given to class in advance. Participants will engage in a discussion of the readings during the sessions. There will be occasional guest experts on legislative topics who will share their experiences and insights. Participants may invite colleagues to attend the final presentations at the end of the term.

Grade Allocation

Memo defining issue and proposing research design              20% 

Memo analyzing options and providing pro/con analysis       20% 

Memo proposing legislative strategy                                       20% 

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

Class participation                                                                    10% 

Class participation is a graded course requirement because oral communication and group discernment are essential skills in the public sector. 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. 

SRH 3.312/3.360