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Inside the Texas Legislature and State Agencies

Sherri Greenberg

How does the Texas Legislature really work? What are the roles of legislators, staff, and committees? What are the functions of various State agencies, boards, commissions, and elected officials? What are the important public policy issues in the State of Texas? How do lobbyists and interest groups influence the process?

This seminar course explores policy making through legislation, and important legislative issues in the State of Texas. We will investigate the inner workings of the Texas Legislature on a formal and an informal basis. Students will learn the formal legislative process including the procedural rules for bills, committees and floor debates. Also, students will investigate the informal process of lobbying and behind the scenes negotiating. We will review the Texas Legislature's Regular Session of 2005, and the subsequent Special Sessions on school finance and taxation. In addition, we will look at legislative and policy implications for additional Special Sessions and the upcoming Regular Session of 2007.

This course will be extremely participatory, and students must read the assignments in advance and attend weekly classes. Students will be expected to come to class prepared to participate, question, and conduct informed discussions. Classes will consist of discussions, case studies, student presentations, and presentations by several guest speakers.

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