Writing:Policy positions of state legislators

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This page is a content-and-style guide about how to write sections about the policy positions of incumbent state legislators and candidates for state legislature.

The purpose of this section is to familiarize your reader with the positions that the legislator or candidate takes on various policies and bills.

The section should be called "Campaign themes" and should be a subsection of "Issues".

Evidence for what a legislator/candidate's policy positions are come from:

  • The legislation he or she supports, or says they will support.
  • The person's overall voting record. In some states, groups or individuals provide assessments of a legislator's guiding philosophy based on the legislator's votes on a variety of bills.
  • How the legislator/candidate describes his/her views.

You can add a bullet-pointed list of policy positions, derived from the multiple sources indicated above, or you can create subsections within this section, labeling them with words like "Taxes," "Marijuana," etc...whatever the general topic is that you're going to explain the legislator's views on in the actual subsection.

Ideally, issue positions will be added from as many different sources as possible.

Some things to watch for:

  • In many states, there will be some kind of local organization that provides more detailed information about candidates -- including scorecards or policy positions. Much of that information does not become available until October, so for these components there is a need to re-check for more data on a consistent basis.
  • For candidates, one of the easiest ways to add policy positions will be to take them from the official campaign website. See the following for examples

For candidates, these lists will be simple and likely only refer to the issues they are campaigning under.

For legislators, these sections can be expanded to include actual stance on existing legislation or voting records.

Places to look for policy position info

  • Political courage test
  • Local organizations that provide questionnaires on issues
  • Official campaign website

Examples

Research requirements

You'll need the ability to:

  • Locate websites that compile information about legislation sponsored by state legislators.
  • Find out if any groups, individuals or newspapers in the state issue "Legislative scorecards."
  • Research news sources to find out what you can about the person's policy positions.
  • Find other relevant sources.