State And Local Politics

POL 421

Dr. Jim L. Riley - Prof.

Regis University

Fall, 2009

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Typical State Capitol

The first sentence in the Regis Mission Statement reads:  "Regis University educates men and women of all ages to take leadership roles and to make a positive impact in a changing society."  Understanding the nature of politics in its broadest sense is crucial to this goal.  This course seeks to expand the political knowledge of students such that each of them is better able to become capable and responsible leaders in our society that is so deeply penetrated by things political.

Class Meetings:  TuTh 1:45 - 3:00, LH #27

Office Hours 
 Monday & Wednesday:   10:30 - 2:00
Tuesday &Thursday:  3:00 -4:00
Friday:  By Appointment  
Office: Carroll Hall 215
 Office Phone: (303) 458-4974

web page --

TEXT: Politics in States and Communities (13th edition) Dye & Macmanus

Text Web Site


2. COURSE PURPOSES: This course shall focus directly upon state and local government and politics.  Students will be asked to explore a variety of concerns pertaining to the subject of politics in general. This includes many activities and institutions relevant to but separate from governments themselves. At semester's end it is to be expected that those students who have completed the course successfully will have developed not only an enhanced understanding of state and local politics, but will also be imbued with a desire to know more about this most important American phenomenon.



5.  CLASS FORMAT:  Because the size of this class is relatively small student participation on a daily basis is essential.   During the semester each student will be asked to lead the class discussion on various aspects of the subject under consideration.  Details will be given in class.  This will constitute a significant portion of the evaluation given by me for class participation.



8. EXAMINATIONS: There will be two (2) essay examinations during the semester and a final examination at the end. Students may bring to the exam five 3" x   5" note cards with anything written on them.  Copied material may not be used.  The sharing of cards during the exam is prohibited. These cards may be used during the exam.  Each examination will count for 25% of a student's course grade as will the out-of-class project. It is the policy of this class to permit no make up examinations, with two exceptions: (1) instances where a particular student has a verified medical excuse, and (2) instances of personal emergency requiring a written request for make-up examination. Only in the most pressing of circumstances will a non-medical excuse be accepted, and the likelihood of acceptance is much greater when the request is made prior to the scheduled exam date. Students missing a regularly scheduled examination and not meeting either of the two exceptions will receive a Fail for that examination.



11. OUT-OF-CLASS RESEARCH PROJECT: Each student must complete one of  two substantial out-of-class projects. 

On September 29 students will submit a one page prospectus of the intended project.

(1) A comparative analysis of four state constitutional provisions dealing with the same subject

(2) A detailed review of one scholarly article

Paper Requirements:  For each of the projects the following requirements shall apply. The project should result in a typewritten or computer printed paper of no less than 2,500 words (about 10 pages). In addition to the body of the paper, there must be a title page, a table of contents, headings within the body of the paper, footnotes or end notes, and a complete bibliography of all sources used.  No less that eight separate sources must be used in the completion of the research paper option.   Moreover, no less than four sources shall be derived from locations other than the internet.

On October 20 the results of the research project may be submitted. The submission should be at least 1,600 words in length (8-10  pages), computer printed and double spaced.   This paper will count for 25% of the course grade. This initial submission date is optional.  Those who meet this deadline will have the opportunity to revise their graded paper if they choose to do so.  A second and final submission date is November 12.   Late papers will be heavily penalized.

Each member of the class will prepare a one page synopsis (very brief summary) of the out-of-class project. One copy will be given to each member of the class on November 19.   This will serve as the reading assignment for the final class meeting at which times member of the class will describe their out-of-class projects in an informal and collegial format.  This will be an open class discussion and not a formal presentation.   Each student should be prepared to describe to the class the essence of what was learned as a result of the out-of-class project. 

12. PROCEDURAL QUALITY REQUIREMENTS: Any papers produced out-of-class as part of an assignment will be heavily penalized if certain error characteristics are present. As a general rule, technical errors (i.e. typographical mistakes, misspellings, sloppy erasures, sentence fragments, etc.) totaling in number an amount greater than the number of pages in the paper, will result in grade penalties that become more severe as their frequency increases. Moreover, papers which deviate significantly from acceptable form (i.e., incorrect or missing footnotes, incorrect or missing bibliography, incorrect or missing table of contents, etc.) will likewise be penalized. Proper form may be gleaned from a careful review and use of Kate Turbian's A Manual For Writers of Term Papers, the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, or other commonly used form guide. The Regis Writing center is available to assist in polishing your paper.

13. CONTENT QUALITY REQUIREMENTS: Regardless of the option chosen each out-of-class project must contain information that indicates thoughtful consideration of the subject under examination. Well organized structure, focused discussion, clarity of message and reasoned evaluations will all enhance the paper's value.

14. USE OF THE INTERNET: In addition to standard library material, students are encouraged to use the Internet  to locate and access material suitable for the research paper out-of-class assignment. A useful place to start is my web-page. It contains numerous links to useful web sites of a political nature. The web  site for the text is also very useful.  It may be accessed by going to:  Text Web Site.  I also encourage you to locate any new web sites that other students of politics might fine helpful and interesting. When appropriate I will add them to my web page with proper acknowledgment

15. ACADEMIC INTEGRITY:  It is expected that students will act honorably in all activities related to this course and will refrain from any form of academic and professional dishonesty or deception in the classroom, clinical, and other learning settings. These behaviors include cheating, plagiarism, falsification of data, falsification of records, and aiding and/or abetting dishonesty.  The Dean of the College has asked that the following language be added to course syllabi:

"Consistent with the College's Academic Integrity Policy, I will report all violations of this course's academic integrity policy to the Dean's office. Students who have committed multiple instances of academic dishonesty can be subject to institutional penalties like probation, suspension, or expulsion, in addition to the penalties for this course. The Academic Integrity policy is described in the Bulletin; detailed information about the policy and the appeals process can be found in the Dean's office."

16. ACCOMMODATION OF DISABILITIES: For information regarding Regis disability services policies, visit the web site of the  Office of Disability Services.


18.  COURSE WITHDRAWAL POLICY:  Students are expected to know and observe the published deadlines for (a) dropping the course and (b) withdrawing from the course. These deadlines are published on the University's Academic Calendar, which is available in the Bulletin, the course schedule and is in the Dean's Office.  THESE DEADLINES ARE NOT FLEXIBLE.



Highlighted Links are Readings Assignments


Date                   Topic, Reading & Presenter

8/25                    Course Introduction

8/27                    Politics in State and Local Governments:  Recent Developments (Ch.1) (Riley)

9/1                      State Constitutions (Ch. 2) (Riley)

9/3 & 9/8            Federalism (Ch. 3 & Federalism Revitalized article) -- Riley

9/10                    Citizen Participation in State Politics  (Ch. 4) (Riley)

9/15 & 9/17        Parties, Campaign and Interest Groups (Ch. 5) (Riley)

9/22                Examination #1

9/24 & 9/29        Legislators and Legislatures (Ch.  6) (Riley & Denver City Auditor Dennis Gallagher)

10/1 & 10/6        Governors (Ch. 7) (Riley & Fite)

10/8                    Bureaucracies (Ch. 8) (Green)

10/15 & 10/20    Courts (Ch. 9) (Riley & Dennis)

10/22                   Local Government Structures (Ch. 10) (Riley)

10/27              Examination #2

10/29                   Local Participation (Ch. 11) (Harris)

11/3                    Metro Politics (Ch. 12) (Keller) Regional Councils & DRCOG

11/5 & 11/10     Land Use and the Environment (Ch. 13) (Larzelere)

11/12                 State and Local Government Finance (Ch. 14) (Trujillo)

11/17                 Civil Rights (Ch. 15) (Encinias)

11/19                 Education (Ch. 16) (Fletcher)

11/24                 Poverty, Welfare and Health (Ch. 17) (Maxwell)

12/1 & 12/3       Student Reports

12/8              Examination #3 (10:10 - 12:10)