325 key legislative concepts with 206 sub-definitions provide the common lawmaking ideas that underlie different words used by various states but that describe the same thing. Understanding legislative concepts and language expressing them is central to succeeding in the capitol, effectively navigating its rules and processes, and influencing the lawmaking process.
States are quite similar as to both the formal and informal processes of lawmaking. However, in the 50 states different terms describe the same thing. For example, in 41 states the lower house of the legislature is called House of Representatives, in 5 states Assembly, and in 3 House of Delegates. Procedurally, an “amendment in the form of a substitute” is called “hog house” (SD), “gut and stuff” (NV), “high jacking” (CA), and universally “strike everything after the enactment clause and insert.” It’s the same structures, similar procedures, and same essences, just using different names.
Master the common concepts of a generally uniform system of lawmaking, and the permutations of state-specific terminologies will be easy to learn.
Insiders Talk: Glossary of Legislative Concepts and Representative Terms (Manual 2) sets the stage for our primer How to Successfully Lobby State Legislatures: Guide to State Legislative Lobbying, 4th edition (Manual 3).
As a policy expert with three decades of political experience, one of the main obstacles I confront is deciphering 50 state capitols’ semantic sub-cultures. Beyond regional accents ranging from the twang in Austin to the hard-edge “Rs” in Boston, political professionals must understand and master the nuances of language, both the unique and the universal. Fortunately, Robert L. Guyer gives us the Rosetta Stone for navigating legislatures with his Glossary of Legislative Concepts and Representative Terms. It’s a one-stop resource for commanding the jargon that steers the process.
BRADLEY KILE, PH.D.
Program Director, Applied American Politics and Policy
Florida State University