Legislative Impacts of Reforms and Limitations Placed on State Legislatures
Aiken, Tyler H.
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This thesis addresses reforms and measures targeted at the function of state legislatures, and argues how such reforms often have unanticipated impacts. This topic was chosen because as reforms and limitations such as the ones outlined here are considered for state legislatures in the future, it is important to better understand how similar measures levied in the past have hindered or benefited state legislatures. Chapter One analyzes term limits on state legislatures and how this has affected the balance of power between state legislatures and governors. Chapter Two studies the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, looking at how current state legislators feel their function and relation to constituents might have been limited with its ratification. Chapter Three examines the modern age of ballot measures, and how they might inhibit the role of state legislatures. Chapter One determined that term limits do create a shift in legislative capabilities and function away from state legislatures and towards governors. It does not however appear to impact a states economy in any discernable manner. Chapter Two concluded that the 17th Amendment inadvertently creates a safeguard for state legislatures to operate without the influence of special interests resembling that on the Federal level. And Chapter Three determined that ballot measures place considerable legislative control in the hands of a citizenry that is often unfamiliar with the far-reaching impact such proposals can have. Additionally, such proposals often create policies that state legislatures must contend with and address in subsequent legislative sessions. This research is important because it shows how reforms and measures placed on state legislatures can have unforeseen results that are often harmful to the legislative representation of a state’s citizens. This thesis portfolio makes a contribution by illustrating how such reforms must be studied thoroughly prior to their implementation and throughout their use, and could better inform legislators and constituents as they consider such alterations to their state legislatures.