Final Project – Civic Engagement Through the Political Process
This portion of the final project is a written paper that focuses on the processes involved in making the laws that we study as part of the GBS 205 course. It meets the following course competency:
• Trace the historical development of law, the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. Court system, legal terminology, and legal procedures.
The written paper should be divided into three distinct sections. It should be written as a paper and not a question and answer worksheet.
SECTION 1 – Civic Engagement Through Contact with Representatives
This section should include the following:
1. A list of the names of the people that represent the area you live in each of the following offices:
• Two U.S. Senators – (These are the people that represent Arizona in Washington DC.)•
One U.S. Congressman – (Also serves in Washington D.C., determined by your Congressional district)•
The governor of Arizona•
Two state representatives – (represent the district where you live; they meet in Phoenix Arizona.)•
One state senator – (represent the district where you live; they meet in Phoenix Arizona.)•
The mayor of the city where you live.•
A city council member that represents the area of the city where you live.
2. A copy of a letter (or an email) written to one of the above representatives discussing an issue that is important to you and suggesting to them an appropriate way of dealing with it. You should actually send this letter (or email) to the person to whom it is addressed.
3. A discussion of why you chose this issue, why you chose this representative for dealing with this issue and the importance of communicating with representatives in this manner. Do you think they read communications such as this and respond to them or are they simply ignored?
SECTION 2 – Understanding the State Legislative Process
For this section of the paper you will need to watch a video archive of a meeting of the state legislature. To find a meeting go to the Arizona State Legislature webpage. Select either the Senate or House drop down menu. Select “Archived Meetings” and you will get a list of previously held meetings that you can watch online. Choose a meeting that is at least 30 minutes long on a topic that interests you and watch it in its entirety. (Hint: The most interesting topics are discussed early in the year so go back to a meeting in February or March). Write about it in this section and include the following:
1. The name of the group holding the meeting (“Joint Legislative Budget Committee” or “Senate Judiciary” etc.), the date and the length of the meeting.
2. A detailed summary of what happened in the meeting including an identification of any bills that were discussed.
3. Your own evaluation of the importance of the topics discussed in the meeting to both Arizona residents and the Arizona business community.
4. Your understanding and evaluation of the state legislative process. Are the needs and effects on business adequately presented and discussed at these meetings? How can businesses influence policy and legislation in the state? Can you think of anything that might be done to improve this process from a businessperson’s perspective?
SECTION 3 – Understanding Local Government
For this section of the paper you need to watch a video archive of both a city council meeting and a city council study session. (If you can demonstrate with pictures or video that you actually attended these meetings you can receive up to 50 extra credit points.). Go to the city’s website and find a link to archived meetings (all cities sites are different – you should be able to navigate through this fairly simply) and watch both meetings in their entirety.
Write about the following in this section of your paper:
1. The city, date and time of both meetings.
2. A detailed description of what happened in each meeting – including prayers, awards, pledge of allegiance, contracts and ordinances discussed, contents of consent agendas etc.
3. Your evaluation of the importance and relevance of the what happened in the meetings to the residents of the city or town.
4. Your opinion on the city council process overall. Is it accessible, valuable, important for residents to attend these meetings? Do citizens have an adequate say in what takes place in a meeting such as this?
5. Do the mayor and councilmembers seem to have a good understanding of the issues? Are they considering the interests of local businesses and citizens when they make their decisions? Are local businesses represented at the meetings? Do businesses have good opportunity to express their positions on the issues? Do you have any suggestions for improving the process?
The length of the paper is not as important as its completeness. You will be graded on having included a thoughtful discussion on all of the topics presented in this prompt. Simple “yes” or “no” type answers will not receive credit without further explanation of the reasoning behind the answer.