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Federalism and State Policy Research Paper Prompt


For students to compare the different ways state governments approach a single policy issue.

For students to better understand the relationship between the federal and state governments 

and how federalism politics can directly influence the ability of state governments to 

accomplish their policy goals.  


Each student will write a 10 to 12-page paper (double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman font, 1-inch margins) 

that includes the following elements:

An introduction (no more than 1-page) that explains the fiscal or public policy issue and the state governments you will focus on in the paper.

a.   You must choose at least two states for your comparative analysis

b.   Your introduction must also include a thesis statement in which you present a federalism-based argument on the current state-to-state or federal-to-state 

relationships for your policy issue (HINT:  look back to the Rose and Goelzhauser (2018) article on how this is done).

A section (about 4-pages) providing a brief history on how each of your chosen states 

have addressed the policy issue you are focusing on.

a.   You are expected to reference and discuss all significant legislation, initiatives, court decisions, etc.

b.   Make sure each state’s policy history is receiving equal attention in your paper

A Section (about 4-pages) explaining the development of the contemporary federalism politics for your chosen policy issue.

a.   You are expected to discuss the history of your policy issue in terms of 1) the changes in state-to-state relations and 2) the changes in federal-to-state relations (HINT: look back to GHK chapter 2 for key terms and historical models of federalism)

b.   An important element to this section will be a thorough analysis of how the 

changes in broader electoral politics (nationally and within your states) affected 

the federalism politics of your policy issue.

A conclusion (about 1-page) summarizing your entire research paper, including an explanation of how your presentation of evidence/research in the body adequately supports the thesis statement in the introduction.

a.   You should also include a normative argument on what policy changes should occur to improve the lives of the citizens in these two states (HINT: frame your argument in terms of federalism politics and shifts in power between the federal and state governments). 

Your research paper must include in-text citations of at least 10 scholarly sources (peer 

reviewed books, journal articles, law review articles, legislations, court decisions, etc.).  

In-text citations and works cited page can be MLA, APA, or Chicago Style citation.



Peer Review of student Rough Draft=10 points

Final Research Paper=25 points

Content=18 points

Sources=4 points

Spelling and grammar=3 points

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