“Delegation in Unexpected Places: Why the Most Professionalized State Legislature Handed Over Its Authority to the Other Party’s Agency.”

Project: Research project

Project Details


In an era of hyper-polarization in Washington D.C., the state legislatures have become more important than ever before. In several policy areas, such as climate policy, they are the only U.S. legislatures adopting laws. Scholars of legislative politics have examined relationships between many variables at the state-level, among the most important of which has been professionalization. Highly professionalized legislatures have greater capacity to craft more complex policies, and there is an expectation that – under the right conditions – they will be disinclined to delegate their power to executive branch agencies. California has the most professionalized state legislature in the country, and yet, through a statute enacted in 2006, its legislature delegated enormous power to an executive branch agency to craft its landmark cap-and-trade system. Given that the state legislature did so in a period of divided government, low bicameral conflict, and the absence of reliable checks on executive power, the political development of California’s cap-and-trade policy defies key theoretical expectations about inter-branch policymaking. This project uses a multitude of qualitative data sources to explain this unexpected outcome, and constitutes an important component of a larger project aimed at developing a theory of the mediating effect of state-level institutional variables on policy outcomes.
Effective start/end date9/1/1812/31/19


  • American Political Science Association (1989198)


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