State Government and Politics
DAVID H. FOLZ
Department of Political Science
1011 McClung Tower
University of Tennessee
Knoxville, TN 37996-0410
Office Phone: (865) 974-0802
FAX: (865) 974-7037 Class Location: Haslam Business Bldg. Rm. 112(Office hours: Any day, by appointment).
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Objectives Required ReadingsClass
Grades Schedule/Reading Assignments
This course is a comparative examination of the political processes, structure, and policies of the 50 states. There are no prerequisites for this course other than a basic knowledge of American government, a desire to learn more about state institutions and how they operate, and an interest in analyzing state policies that address major issues related to crime, poverty, health care, and education. PowerPoint slide shows and films highlight key concepts, issues and topics.
1. To understand how and why the states’ role in the US federal system has changed and to examine the critical role states should play to sustain a viable federal system of
2. To analyze how features of the political environment of the states, such as the nature of intergovernmental relations, political culture, ideology, and state constitutional
provisions affect what the states do and how they do it.
3. To examine why states vary in tax effort, what revenue sources they rely on, and why they vary in their expenditures for different policy functions.
4. To learn what the states have done and are doing to address challenges related to (1) state budgetary crises, (2) crime and corrections, (3) welfare & health care, and (4)
5. To examine how and why the states vary in the types of popular participation they permit, the reasons for the observed trends in state-level voting, and what policies the
states have enacted or proposed to help increase popular participation and reduce voter fraud in state elections.
6. To review how state campaigns and elections are conducted and to understand the implications of proposed reforms.
7. To learn how state parties, interest groups, and the media serve as “gate-keepers” to the state political system.
8. To examine how the major state institutions operate and to understand the nature of efforts to reform the legislative, executive and judicial branches.
1. Smith, Kevin B., Alan Greenblat, and Vaughni, Michele. 2011. Governing States and Localities. CQ Press. (Denoted by “SGV” in class schedule).
2. On-line readings found at the web sites that appear in the Class Schedule on the class web page.
3). Daily consultation of http://www.stateline.org for Top Stories and "More Stories."
[If you are interested in reading the full text of any US Supreme Court
case that we discuss in class, see: http://www.findlaw.com/casecode/supreme.html
search by year or case name.]
You are expected to attend class and participate in discussions about the topics for each class period. Quizzes will be given periodically to reward the prepared student. Your job is to read the assigned materials before class meetings so that you can participate in discussions on the assigned topics and score well on the quizzes. Quiz questions may cover the assigned readings and/or the stories at the Stateline website. Make-up quizzes will not be given. Occasional Extra Credit quizzes will be given instead. Attendance will be taken on randomly selected days and will be computed in your final grade for the course.
If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a documented disability or if you have emergency information to share, please contact the Office of
Disability Services at 191 Hoskins Library at 974-6087. This will ensure that you are properly registered for services.
You will have two exams that consist of multiple choice and short answer questions. You will receive a study guide for each exam for exam preparation.
Any make up exams will be given only at the discretion of the instructor.
grade will be determined by your performance on the exams, quizzes and
any extra credit points you acquire.
Each exam is worth 100 points.
Component @ Percentage @ Points
Exam 1 35 100
Exam 2 35 100
Quizzes & Attend. 30 85
The grade scale for all work is: 90 to 100%= A; 85 to 89% = B+; 80 to 84% = B; 75 to 79% = C+; 70 to 74% = C; 65 to 69% = D; under 65% = F
Schedule and Assignments:
May 11 -- Course Introduction and an Overview of the State Political System.
SGV, Chap. 1
Part I. Key Features of the State Political System
May 12 -- Key Features of the State Political Environment: Immigration, Political Culture, Ideologies & Constitutions
SGV, Chap. 3 & Chap. 4, pp. 161-169,
. Internet Readings:
“Our Unconstitutional Census”
“The Arizona Anti-Illegal Immigration Law”
Justice Brennan's Footnote Gave Us Anchor Babies
“Utah’s Immigration Model”
“Georgia Targets Illegal Immigration”
“Constitutional Rules Matter”
“Brewer Announces Supreme Court Appeal”
May 13, 16
-- Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations: Whither Our Federal System?
SGV, Chap. 2,
“Three Deadly Weapons”
“Florida et al v. Sebelius”
“White House to Pursue Health Care Appeal”
“Missouri Steps Up Fight Against Health Law”
"Can the States Do It Better?" (Film)
II. Policy Outputs: Key Issues in the States
May 17 -- The Great Recession: State Budgets & Finances in an Era of Stress
SGV, Chapter 4,
“States Face Painful Cuts”
“States in the Red”
“Rich States Poor States” (Executive Summary & Chap. 1 “State of the States.”) by ALEC
“States with the Worst Income Inequality”
“The Price of Taxing the Rich”
18 -- Crime & Corrections Policies:
What Explains the Decline in Violent Crimes? Review for Exam #1.
Chapter 7 & notes from Joyce Lee Malcolm, "Guns and Violence: The English Experience" (2002).
“Violent Crime Falls Sharply”
“A Crime Theory Demolished”
“Christie Ends Early Release”
“States Rethink Drug Laws”
“Pew Instead of Prison”
Film: “Best Kept Secrets in Law Enforcement” (time permitting)
Background Reading (optional) on Broken Windows Police Strategies: "Do Police Matter?"
May 19 -- Poverty,
Welfare and Health Care Policies: Successes & Challenges
SGV, Chap. 15,
“Welfare Reform 10 years later”
“Kiss Your Access Goodbye”
“The Truth About Health Insurance”
“The Unhealthy Counting of Uninsured Americans”
“Timeline of Major Provisions of Democrats’ Health Care Package”
“Winning the Real ObamaCare War”
May 20 -- Review and Study for Mid-Term
May 23 -- Mid-Term Exam
May 24 --
The Politics of State Education Reforms in K-12
SGV, Chap. 13,
Film: “Waiting for Superman”
“Hobbling Charter Schools”
“Charter Schools and School Performance”
“Wisconsin is Ground Zero”
“TEA Up In Arms”
“Exec. Summary of Tennessee’s Race to the Top Application”
III. Inputs and Institutions.
May 25 -- Participation and Voting Behavior in State Elections
SGV, Chap. 5,
Crawford v. Marion County Election Board (2008)
“Wisconsin and the Voter Fraud Agenda”
“Wisconsin Election Snafu”
May 26 -- Interest Groups, State Parties, Campaign Finances & the Media
SGV, Chap. 6, pp. 209-220.
SGV, Chap. 6, pp. 178-209
Mayer, “In Defense of Negative Campaigning.” (3) 1996.Political Science Quarterly.
27 -- State Legislatures
SGV, Chap. 7,
"Redistricting: Home to Roost"
"Shifting Sands of Redistricting Law"
“Census, State Elections Could Map New Majority”
"Can Politics be Romoved from Redistricting?"
“One Person, One Vote Still Unsettled”
May 30 -- Memorial Day. No class.
May 31 --
Governors & the Courts; Guest Speaker,
Mr. Joe Jarret, Knox County Law Director
SGV, Chaps. 8 & 10,
“Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors,”(pp. 1-9).
“Grading the States '08" (Read all four sections of the report).
“Governors Chop Spending”
SGV, Chap. 9
“The New TN Judicial Selection Process”
June 1 -- Final Exam
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