Being an Effective Lawmaker from Day One

Elections & Members By Kevin R. Kosar April 23, 2024

Craig Volden and Alan Wiseman, Being an Effective Lawmaker from Day One (Center for Effective Lawmaking, 2022).

Professors Craig Volden and Alan Wiseman wrote this guide based upon their deep research on legislative effectiveness.

“In this pamphlet we present lessons that we’ve learned from the analysis of half a century of data on the legislative activities of members of the U.S. Congress. We scoured the advice that new members of Congress typically receive from their parties, government agencies, and good governance organizations. We then translated those pieces of advice into testable hypotheses and explored what happened to the legislative proposals of those who followed the advice, and those who did not. Based on the CEL’s Legislative Effectiveness Score (LES), we find that some of that advice is extremely valuable, while other suggestions seem to make little difference whatsoever.”

It is worth noting that the authors employ the term “lawmaker” not “elected official,” “politician,” or “member of Congress.” What legislators do goes far beyond lawmaking—they give voice to constituents and interest groups and they serve as constituent advocates to the executive branch, among other tasks.

But lawmaking is one of their essential constitutional duties, and therefore it should be given the utmost attention by legislators.


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