Current Working Papers

Creating Opportunities: Leadership Diversity in Term-Limited State Legislatures

In the early 1990s advocates of legislative term limits promised that there would be increases in diversity. Since their implementation, however, scholars have found that these promises did not come to fruition. Despite these unfulfilled promises, the leadership positions can no longer be occupied by individuals for 20~+ years. While the initial effects of term limits stunted efforts to create more diverse legislatures, those same limits have created opportunities. This study uncovers whether term limits have led to greater diversity among legislative leadership. Newly collected leadership data from term-limited state legislatures reveals that by removing long-standing incumbents women and persons of color were able to gain leadership positions that they likely would not have otherwise. This research suggests that limitations on service may benefit minority legislators beyond what was previously understood. 

Learning from Podium-Gate: How to Use State Freedom of Information Laws

 With Jennifer L. Selin 


Arkansas’s so-called “podium-gate” started with a simple Freedom of Information (FOI) request about the Governor’s spending. Ultimately, the uncovering of a $19,000 purchase led to a complete overhaul of the state’s FOI law. This scandal and its place in national politics brought new light to the importance of FOI laws. Meanwhile, state politics scholars often utilize these FOI laws for data collection and information, but the variation among the states makes this a difficult task. Using insight from originally collected data on the FOI laws from all 50 states we explore these variations and how the laws can be used to the advantage of scholars. We outline the types of laws, what they contain, and the accessibility of information. We then share examples from a handful of states to illustrate the range of these laws. This research note is designed to advantage state politics scholars who use FOI requests to inform their research and data collection efforts.