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Legislative Histories: old assignments

Federal Policy Analysis Paper (SOW 5235 - Ramos & Campbell, Fall 2009)

NOTE: This is the assignment from 2009. No copy of the assignment was provided to the library for 2010 and the Social Work Department informed the library that none of the following is relevant to the 2010 assignments. It is retained here for archiving purposes.

Jansson’s "Systems Approach to Policy Making" identifies the following contextual factors which contribute to creating a reluctant welfare state:

  • Cultural Factors: American belief in responsibility creates the perception that one is responsible for their own life; therefore, government should be reluctant to help those in need. Pull yourself up from your bootstraps is where this saying comes from.
  • Economic Factors: Should the taxes I pay be spent in helping the drug addict, homeless, immigrant, poor, etc… Why should my taxes go up to help those in need?
  • Institutional Factors: Who takes care of the poor and how? The levels of government (federal, state, and local) fluctuate on how social problems are solved. Conservative government (Republicans) tends to push responsibility to state level government and private charity. Liberal government (Democrats) tends to feel that a centralized government should be enforced and Washington has a responsibility to meet the needs of its people.
  • Social Factors: How does government prioritizes its tax spending based on how society is shaped. Paying for a war, stopping immigrants from entering the country, helping the housing crisis, and high unemployment are just some examples of how social factors affect policy.
  • Sequence of Events: How the actions of social factors impact the elected officials. A good example of this is the conservative outcry of public health care. The protest and activism of some Americans is causing media and elected officials to react to what may the best interest of the uninsured (pulling the plug on grandma’s dying bed). That is why Obama is traveling the country talking about health care. He is impacting the sequence of events.
  • Legal Factors: What does the law permit or not permit. Example: Health Care for undocumented persons.
  • Political Factors: Conservative values versus Liberal values. What should tax dollars be used for is some of the issues related to political factors. How interest groups and lobbyist affect the outcome.

(Jansson, Bruce " The Reluctant Welfare State", 2009, Brooks/Cole Publishing. California)

 

 


The following questions should help you incorporate the above systems concepts in your paper:

NOTE: You should still conduct your research step-by-step in the numeric order of the steps in the guide, NOT in the numeric order of the questions posed for the paper or skippng around to whatever question catches your interest. The step-by-step procedures of the research guide are designed to give you a better understanding of the law and what happened with it BEFORE you start digging into the full documentation looking for details to answer specific questions.

1. Who introduced the bill and what was the motivation?

  • The Bill Tracking Report (step 4) will identify the initial sponsor as well as subsequent co-sponsors. Sometimes the initial sponsor speaks at length when first introducing the bill about why they decided to propose the bill and the remarks can be found in the Congressional Record. Look at the earliest couple of items listed in the Bill Tracking Report.
  • If the initial sponsor doesn't provide clear answers to the questions posed for this section of your paper, then you may have to keep an eye out for the answers as you work through the other resources (step 2, step 3, and step 8).

2. What house and senate committee were responsible for the legislation?

  • The narrative discussion of a law in Congressional Quarterly Almanac (step 2) usually describes the process through which the bill passed; remember to look at earlier volumes of Congressional Quarterly Almanac if appropriate.
  • The Bill Tracking Report (step 4) will identify the various committees through which the bill passed.

3. Are there issues that divided the house and senate on the bill?

  • The narrative discussion of a law in Congressional Quarterly Almanac (step 2) usually describes the process through which the bill passed; remember to look at earlier volumes of Congressional Quarterly Almanac if appropriate.
  • The Bill Tracking Report (step 4) will identify the sponsors & co-sponsors of the bill by party and the results of votes along the way. Look for amendments in the process. If there are issues to be resolved between the House and Senate versions then a conference committee will be assigned to resolve the differences.
  • Following the summary at the beginning of the legislative history (step 3) there may be a list of related bills. Some of those bills may represent competing viewpoints on the issue.

4. What was the presidential administration's view of the bill?

  • The narrative discussion of a law in Congressional Quarterly Almanac (step 2) usually describes the process through which the bill passed; remember to look at earlier volumes of Congressional Quarterly Almanac if appropriate. Did the president express a position during the process?
  • There may be a Presidential Signing Statement included in U.S. Code Congressional & Administrative News (step 2). Additional sources for Presidential Signing Statements may also be available.

5. How do political values shape the outcome of the bill?

  • The narrative discussion of a law in Congressional Quarterly Almanac (step 2) usually describes the process through which the bill passed; remember to look at earlier volumes of Congressional Quarterly Almanac if appropriate.

6. How do you feel about the outcome of your bill?

Local & State Policy Papers (SOW 5235 - Ramos & Campbell, Fall 2009)

No copy of the assignment was provided by the instructors.