Legislative professionalism is assessed according to three key factors: state legislators’ salary, the length
of time they are in session, and the number of staff at their disposal. Members of professional or full-time
legislatures tend to consider legislative service their full-time occupation, and they are paid enough not to
require a second occupation. They also have larger staffs to assist with their work, and they tend to be in
session for much of the year. On the other end of the spectrum are citizen, or part-time, legislatures.
Representatives and senators in these legislatures do not enjoy the same perks as their counterparts in
professional legislatures. Generally, salary is much lower and so is staff assistance. Members typically
need to seek outside employment to supplement their income from legislative work, and the legislature will
meet for only a brief period of time during the year.
Between these two extremes are hybrid legislatures. Their members are compensated at a higher rate than
in citizen legislatures, but they are still likely to need outside employment to make an income equal to what
they were making prior to taking office. These representatives and senators will have some staff assistance
but not as much as in a professional legislature. Finally, members in hybrid legislatures will not consider
their service to constitute a full-time occupation, but they will spend more than part of their time conducting
legislative business. As the map below shows, California, New York, and Pennsylvania are home to some
of the most professional legislatures in the country. On the other hand, New Hampshire, North Dakota,
Wyoming, and South Dakota are among the states that rank lowest on legislative professionalism.
Which type of legislature – professional, citizen, or hybrid – do you think is best? Why? This is a “post-first”
Your initial response to the discussion prompt should be at least two full paragraphs in length, include at
least one reference