Title

Full-Time, Part-Time, and Real Time: Explaining State Legislators' Perceptions of Time on the Job

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Fall 2006

Abstract

One of the oldest and most distinctive characteristics of American political culture is its anti-government, anti-politician bias. One manifestation of this attitude in state government today is the effort to maintain part-time "citizen" legislatures, whether through term limits, low salaries, or session length restrictions. But, realistically, how part-time is the job of a state legislator? We discuss findings from a national survey of state legislators in which they report spending more time on the job than one might anticipate given the presumably part-time nature of many state legislatures. As expected, we find that legislators serving in bodies characterized as full-time, professional legislatures spend more time on the job than those in part-time institutions, but we also see significant variation across states in both groups. We also find considerable variation among individual legislators, which is related to factors such as holding a leadership position and a legislator's demographic characteristics. We also show how time on the job is allocated among specific components of representation.

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