Mary A. Kroeger

I am an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. From 2017-2020, I was an assistant professor at the University of Rochester.

I received my PhD from Princeton University in 2017. My research interests are in U.S. state politics, American political institutions, bureaucratic-legislative interactions, policy diffusion, and quantitative methods. I test theories about information provision on the state level. My research examines the differential utilization of model legislation, group-sponsored bills in the California state legislature, and change in bill text over the legislative process.

I am working on a book manuscript, entitled Outsourcing Legislation: How Non-Legislators Write U.S. State Law. Two questions motivate this book. First, what are the origins of laws that govern citizens, businesses, and bureaucrats within the U.S. states? Second, under what conditions do non-legislative actors play a role in crafting statutory law? I find that interest groups, companies, think tanks, and unelected bureaucrats play a huge role in crafting the exact parameters and specific wording of the laws that govern their behaviors. Furthermore, those legislators and legislatures with fewer resources and lower capacity rely on interest group input more heavily than their better-resourced counterparts.

I bring three unique datasets to bear on these questions. First, a big data textual analysis comparing model bills from 66 groups (which are prepackaged legislation disseminated to state legislators by national-level groups) to state legislation provides a systematic way to detect which state bills originate from groups' preferred text. By studying model legislation, I assess the predictors of cross-state variation in utilizing this group input. Legislatures with fewer resources or under greater constraints rely on group input at higher rates. In separate analyses, I extract information from millions of bill analyses (summaries of bills provided by the state legislature) which reveal the non-legislative sponsor of legislation in the California state legislature. Finally, I collect data on bureaucratic involvement in the legislative process to explore these actors' role. Importantly, bureaucrats write a large portion of statutory law. Partisan and resource considerations alter the attractiveness and uptake of bureaucrats' pre-drafted legislation.

The other major set of projects that I am working on focus on the changes that bills undergo as they transition through the legislative process. Trends in the markup and amendment process have important implications for the relative power held by various actors in the legislative process. I track the changes made to legislation after introduction to more fully model the dynamic lawmaking process. This research speaks to the distribution of power in legislative bodies by considering who retains control over legislative products.

Here is my CV.