The CEL's 2023 Award for Best Publication on Effective Lawmaking
The Center for Effective Lawmaking (CEL) was excited to announce the recipient of the 2023 Award for the Best Publication on Effective Lawmaking at our Fifth Annual Research Conference, at Vanderbilt University on June 5, 2023. The recipient of this year’s award is Todd Makse of Florida International University, for his 2022 article in Political Research Quarterly titled “Instant Credibility: The Conditional Role of Professional Background in Policymaking Success.”
In this work, Makse posits the hypothesis that lawmakers can gain credibility in advancing their policy ideas based on their own professional backgrounds, and whose policy proposals are based on expertise rather than ideology. To test his hypotheses, he assembled data on the backgrounds and a sample of more than 68,000 bill proposals of legislators in 42 states, in such areas as agriculture, education, health, and law. His analyses show that professional congruence is strongly and positively related to bill progression. He finds this benefit to be robust among freshmen lawmakers, but also that it perseveres throughout legislators’ careers. Professional congruence is especially helpful for members of the minority party, whose proposals might otherwise be dismissed rather easily, and also in high-turnover legislatures where trust and expertise might be difficult to establish on grounds other than professional backgrounds.
The idea of expertise playing a central role in effective lawmaking is consistent with broader themes that have been advanced by the Center for Effective Lawmaking; and this paper establishes one significant pathway to developing and utilizing that expertise. Makse’s approach, in looking at effective lawmaking in the states, points to how lessons from state legislatures can be applied to our understanding of other legislative settings, including the U.S. Congress. His careful data collection and analyses are exemplary of the sort of scholarship that the Center seeks to promote. This publication should be of significant interest and relevance to scholars and practitioners, and we at the Center congratulate the author on his work.
About the recipient:
Todd Makse is an Associate Professor and the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Department of Politics and International Relations at Florida International University (FIU). His current research looks at the importance of professional backgrounds and expertise in state legislatures, how early voting influences political discussion and information, and the relationship between policy priorities and knowledge in a multi-level political system. His co-authored book, “Politics on Display: Yard Signs and the Politicization of Social Spaces” examines the consequences of political yard sign displays in residential neighborhoods. His work has been published in journals that include The Journal of Politics, Political Research Quarterly, Legislative Studies Quarterly, Political Behavior, American Politics Research, State Politics and Policy Quarterly, Policy Studies Journal, and Political Geography. Before arriving at FIU, he served on the faculty at Susquehanna University, Dickinson College, and Radford University.