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date: 28 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Local government legislatures range from large urban city councils and county commissions to rural school boards. These bodies are shaped by state law and are quite diverse in their policymaking and administrative responsibilities. This article presents an overview of the current research on local legislatures, their structures, functions, and powers. The authors assess the body of research for each type, including cities, counties, and special purpose governments, and identify research opportunities of importance to local legislatures. The authors conclude that research has been hampered by the diversity of local governments and the limited comparability of units, and therefore tends toward methodologies that focus on contextual specificity. This is a complication that is likely to continue to influence the ability of researchers to address issues of decision-making, accountability, cooperation and other important questions using quantitative analyses, despite the pressing need to understand the impact of local legislatures in order to make informed choices about how to proceed in an increasingly complex realm of local government.

Keywords: legislatures, council, board, structure, function, powers, decision-making, accountability, elections, representation, districts, wards, special districts, executives, mayors

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