The Politics of Bicameral Agreement: Why and When Do State Lawmakers Go to Conference?

The power of conference committees is well documented and studied by scholars of the US Congress. But little is known about politics of bicameral agreement within state legislatures. Leveraging variation across states, I explore the conditions under which legislative leaders prefer formal bicameral conference negotiations to informal talks to reach final legislative agreements. Deploying an original dataset of state legislative decisions between 2005 and 2018, I find that ideologically cohesive majority parties favor the use of conferences, disproportionately relying on them to reconcile bicameral differences on salient measures. Majority parties, however, refrain from going to conference in those assemblies that empower the minority party to select its preferred conferees. The interaction of chamber rules and partisan dynamics thus shapes the contours of legislative agreements in systematic ways across the states.

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License CC BY
Type Journal Articles
C-ID POLS 110 - American