Center for Effective Lawmaking

Congressional Town Halls and Legislative Effectiveness

Town hall meetings have long been a way for constituents to hear from their Representatives and Senators face-to-face, and to likewise raise their most pressing policy concerns.  Is there a tradeoff between legislators spending their time and effort on town halls instead of focusing their energies on other important policymaking activities? New analysis from the Center for Effective Lawmaking (CEL) Faculty Affiliate Andrew J. Clarke and his co-author Daniel Markovits addresses this question by drawing on more than 23,000 town hall meetings over the past eight years.The authors find that the…

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Measuring the Effectiveness of Public Leaders

How do we know if public leaders are effective in their jobs? CEL Co-Director Craig Volden, Faculty Affiliate Laurel Harbridge-Yong, and Grant Recipient Beatriz Rey all contributed their insights as part of a panel discussion and Q&A hosted by the Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Friday, July 22. They discussed the measurement of effectiveness of lawmakers, as well as how voters and others use effectiveness information to hold elected officials accountable.Watch the panel in its entirety below:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQrwJ9vOKV8

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The CEL’s 2022 Award for Best Publication on Effective Lawmaking

The CEL's 2022 Award for Best Publication on Effective Lawmaking This year, in coordination with our Fourth Annual Research Conference, the Center for Effective Lawmaking was pleased to announce the 2022 Award for Best Publication on Effective Lawmaking. The award was presented to Jesse M. Crosson, Alexander C. Furnas, Timothy Lapira, and Casey Burgat for their 2021 article in Legislative Studies Quarterly, titled "Partisan Competition and the Decline in Legislative Capacity among Congressional Offices.” In this paper, the authors take a deep dive into a new (and original) data set drawn from 236,000 quarterly payroll disbursements by…

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Being an Effective Lawmaker from Day One: A Guide for New Members of Congress

Being an Effective Lawmaker from Day One: A Guide for New Members of Congress The CEL is grateful for the willingness of members of Congress to engage in public service at this crucial time. We congratulate the newly-elected members of the 117th Congress. In conjunction with the start of the new legislative session, we are excited to announce the release of our new and comprehensive New Member Guide.This guide offers our best advice for how new members can become effective lawmakers. We scoured all of the materials presented in previous new…

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Discussing Effective Lawmaking in Latin America

Discussing Effective Lawmaking in Latin America On December 3, 2020, the Center for Effective Lawmaking Co-Directors as well as our current post-doctoral affiliate, Erinn Lauterbach, participated in a conversation hosted by American University regarding effective lawmaking in Latin America.Moderated by SIS Associate Professor Matthew Taylor, this forum compared legislative processes in the United States with those found in Latin America.Watch the conversation in its entirety below:https://youtu.be/H85TOihj65I

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WATCH: The Future of Congressional Reform with Rep. Derek Kilmer

WATCH: The Future of Congressional Reform with Rep. Derek Kilmer On November 12, 2020, the Center for Effective Lawmaking was honored to host Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA06) for a public conversation surrounding his work as the Chair of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress. (For an analysis of how the Select Committee's work intersects with research from the Center for Effective Lawmaking, read our article here.) The Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress Committee (“Select Committee”) was established by H.Res. 6 on January 4, 2019 and is…

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Divided America, Divided Government: What’s Next?

Divided America, Divided Government: What’s Next? America remains deeply divided.  Closely contested races.  A slight rightward move in the House.  A slight leftward move in the Senate.  If current election trends continue, 2021 will feature President Biden overseeing a Democratic House and Republican Senate.In some ways continued divided government is fitting.  Politicians should be placed in a position where they need to compromise and take one another’s views into account.  But will they?  Or will they dig in on their partisan divisions, which will contribute to gridlock, and ultimately provide…

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Experienced Legislative Staff Crucial to Making a Difference on the Hill

Experienced Legislative Staff Crucial to Making a Difference on the Hill A legislative staff member’s role is critical to maintaining and sustaining the operations of congressional offices. And the CEL has released a study revealing that the more experience a congressional staff member has, the better equipped they are to make the lawmaker they work for more effective.Assessing data from 1974 to 2013, the CEL discovered that experienced congressional staff have a significant impact on a legislator’s performance in Congress. Experienced staff help members advance legislative proposals of greater significance…

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Women’s Issues and Their Fates in Congress

Women's Issues and Their Fates in Congress It is no surprise to voters that bills addressing the classically considered “women’s issues” are more likely to be introduced by female members of Congress. Yet, bills on such issues are half as likely as other bills to be passed into law. Beyond that fact, CEL research has revealed a further surprising and disheartening finding. The likelihood of passage of “women’s issues” legislation drops in half yet again if the women’s issue bills are sponsored by women themselves. If men sponsor the legislation,…

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Watch: Primaries and Primary Reform

Watch: Primaries and Primary Reform On May 14, 2020, we partnered with the Miller Center to bring together a panel of experts to discuss primaries and primary reform. Our faculty affiliate Jennifer Lawless moderated as Chris Lu, Kyle Kondik and our Co-Director Craig Volden spent an hour answering questions such as: Is the U.S. presidential primary system really the best way to choose a nominee? Are we too reliant on campaign cash and media coverage? What are the benefits and costs of ranked choice voting? What interests these experts the…

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