Model Bills, State Imitation, and the Political Safeguards of Federalism

Mary A. Kroeger, Andrew Karch, Timothy Callaghan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent media reports imply that corporations, industry groups, and think tanks exercise outsized influence in state legislatures by promoting model legislation. Before making sweeping claims about how special interests dominate the legislative process, it is essential to compare their purported influence to that of other sources. This article performs such a comparison by applying textual analysis to two original datasets—one including over 2400 state bills that challenge 12 national policies and one including more than 1000 model bills. It finds that lawmakers are more likely to develop legislation internally or rely on legislation from other states than to use model bills. These results suggest that while special interests can sometimes exploit the safeguards of federalism to advance their partisan goals, that dynamic is far from the norm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalLegislative Studies Quarterly
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

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© 2022 Washington University in St. Louis


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