EXECUTIVE BRANCH, FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND INTEREST GROUPS
The purpose of this lesson is to provide students with an overview of the interaction between the Legislature and other governmental institutions or organizations that seek to influence the policymaking process. Students will explore the relationship between the Legislature and two external governmental institutions, the state executive branch and the federal government. Students will also explore the role and interaction of lobbyists and special interest groups within the state legislative process.
Students should understand the role of the governor and the federal government, including federal legislators, in the policymaking process. Students should become acquainted with the theory of pluralism. Students should understand the role of lobbyists and interest groups in the policymaking process and should be able to identify positive and negative consequences of this involvement.
1. Introduce students to the SD Executive department and the executive departments of other states and the federal government. Divide students into groups. Each group should visit the web site of one state or federal executive department and should prepare a 1-2 page summary of the department's functions, programs, etc. Summary reports can then be presented by each group to the entire class.
2. Engage students in a debate regarding the role of interest groups in government. Students can use historical sources (such as Federalist Paper #10, see "Resources" below) or modern critiques of the role of interest groups in our society. Students can be divided into groups in two ways: (1) one group representing the historical view of interest groups and the other representing more modern critiques, and (2) one group favoring and one group opposing the role of interest groups in society. Students should be aware of the importance of issues such as campaign finance reform and legislative influence.
Resources:• Federalist Paper #10
• The FEC and the Federal Campaign Finance Law
• Lobbyist list
• Brookings Institute: Campaign Finance at Brookings Archives