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With more than 60 years of theoretical development, policy scholars have been apprehensive about how to develop a cohesive body of knowledge about policy origins and effects. The subfield of public policy is complex and requires more than one framework to capture the entire process. Study of the policy process has evolved from the stages heuristic to multiple theoretical frameworks. The stages heuristic, a simplistic and linear model of the policy-making process, does not account for the complexity, ambiguity, or instability inherent in policy development (Jann & Wegrich, 2007). Policy frameworks, such as advocacy coalition framework (ACF) (Sabatier & JenkinsSmith, 1988), punctuated equilibrium framework (PEF) (Baumgartner & Jones, 1993), and multiple streams framework (MSF) (Kingdon, 1995), are adaptations of the stages heuristic moving toward an empiricist and positivist methodological approach. This article analyzes the passage of the 2007 Northern Everglades and Estuaries Protection Program Bill (hereinafter Senate Bill 392) from two different theoretical perspectives: the ACF and the social construction framework (SCF) (Schneider & Ingram, 1997; Yanow, 1992).

Senate Bill 392 was selected as an example of a policy change because this bill presents a change in the language and scope of Everglades policy. Throughout Everglades policy history, the geographic boundary and political scope of the Everglades rested below Lake Okeechobee. Many sources reference the "northern Everglades" as the area commonly known as the Everglades Agricultural Area, which lies southeast of Lake Okeechobee (i.e., Hinrichsen, 1995; Levin, 2003; Light & Dineen, 1994; National Research Council, 2008; Newman et al., 1998; Salt, Langton, & Doyle, 2008). Since 2000, none of the bills concerning the restoration and cleanup of Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River used the word "Everglades" in their title; this changed in the 2007 Florida legislative session with Senate Bill 392.

The Florida Everglades is a significant policy, planning, and management issue and contains approximately 25% of the original four million acres. It is a World Heritage Site, an International Biosphere Reserve, and a Ramsar wetland of international importance (Caffey & Schexnayder, 2003). Researchers have studied this ecosystem and its rich 170-year policy history from various disciplines including economics (Richardson, et al., 2014; Weisskoff, 2005), management (Estenoz & Bush, 2015; Koch, et al., 2015; Light & Dineen, 1994), policy (Gonzalez, 2005; Knox, 2013), and public administration (Gerlak & Heikkila, 2011; Heikkila & Gerlak, 2014).

Researchers have successfully applied the ACF to qualitative and quantitative case studies since the mid-1990s. Environmental policy is primarily (57%) studied, including watershed partnerships (Leach & Sabatier, 2005); coastal water policy (Jordan & Greenway, 1998); forest policy (Burnett & Davis, 2002; Elliott & Schlaepfera, 2001); water policy (Ellison, 1998; Leschine, Lind, & Sharma, 2003); and Everglades policy, namely the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (Taylor, 2007) (Jenkins-Smith, Nohrstedt, Weible, & Sabatier, 2014). Meanwhile, researchers have used the SCF to study organic agriculture (Ingram & Ingram, 2006); water policy in Israel (Menahem, 1998); and toxic releases (Yu et al., 1998).

Since each framework implies a distinctive process of interaction among prominent actors, an exploratory qualitative approach for a richly detailed case is particularly well suited to uncover significant mechanisms of social interaction. The addition of the SCF uncovered a more radical change missed by the ACF in analyzing the passage of Senate Bill 392. Specifically, the minor policy change could have major implications in the geographic boundary and political scope of future Everglades and water policies in Florida. Applying the SCF explains the potential, unintended, negative consequences of including "Everglades" in the bill's title--namely the advantaged groups' previous actions to weaken other Everglades legislations could affect the implementation and outcomes of Senate Bill 392. This article argues for theories of policy change, especially the SCF, to be layered in a multi-framework analysis to holistically describe policy change. First, each selected framework is briefly described in conceptual terms. Next, the frameworks are analyzed with interview and archival data. Finally, the results are discussed, and concluding thoughts and study limitations are presented.


With the potential for comprehensive explanation, the ACF attempts to capture the intricacy of multi-level, multi-actor policy-making, while focusing on major policy changes (Jenkins-Smith, et al., 2014). However, most legislative bills moving through the policy process tend to be socially constructed by politicians and positivist policy frameworks take for granted this conceptualization of a policy. Therefore, this study applies a second framework, the SCF, to capture those communications and socially-developed, value-laden constructions of the issue by participating actors. Each theoretical framework is summarized below with specific attention paid to the origin of the framework and how it explains policy change. Lastly, the frameworks are compared and contrasted.

Advocacy Coalition Framework

Sabatier and Jenkins-Smith (1988) criticized the stages heuristic model and proposed the ACF, which is designed on a solid scientific foundation and empiricist research agenda to further the study of policies. The framework's origin stems from elements of various theories including institutional rational choice, policy learning theory, and policy network theory. The ACF tries to understand conditions for subsystem policy learning and stability by incorporating motivational factors of information and learning in the policy change process (Jenkins-Smith, et al., 2014).

The framework focuses on the dynamics and interactions between advocacy coalitions in policy subsystems. These coalitions consist of actors from various private, public, and nonprofit institutions who share causal and normative beliefs, coordination strategies, and similar concerns regarding a particular policy problem. This framework assumes those actors can be combined into one to four advocacy coalitions. The majority of non-aggregated actors are assumed not to be important since they either will leave or eventually will join a coalition. Some coalitions are long-lived with stakeholders including agency officials, applied researchers, interest group leaders, journalists, legislators, and politicians (Jenkins-Smith, et al., 2014). Some long-lived coalitions present in the Everglades policy subsystem include development, agriculture, mining, and environmental interests (Knox, 2013; Taylor, 2007).

The interaction of competing advocacy coalitions is how the ACF empirically explains policy change in the policy-making process. When there is competition, policy brokers mediate for a variety of reasons; most notably they either have a vested interest to resolve the problem or they want to maintain political harmony in the policy system (Birkland, 1997). This interaction is one of four ways the ACF views policy change longitudinally, which many of the ACF case studies overlook (Weible, Sabatier, & McQeen, 2009). The other three ways are external perturbations, trial-and-error learning, and an enlightenment episode. Specific to this study, radical or non-incremental policy change requires an external disturbance to the policy subsystem, such as changes in socioeconomic conditions, public opinion, systemic governing coalitions, policy decisions, or impacts from other policy subsystems (Jenkins-Smith, et al., 2014). The majority of non-incremental policy change research focuses on external shocks, including disasters and crises (e.g., Birkland, 1997; Boin, 't Hart, & McConnell, 2009). Overall, the ACF has found deep connections within examination of environmental policies and understanding the complex levels, stakeholders, and cognitions feeding the policy decision-making process.

Social Construction Framework

Building on Mannheim's idea, the SCF places value on an interpretative approach to studying the policy process, especially since multiple views of reality exists. In addition, the SCF understands not only the benefits and losses of policy change, but also whether those changes actually affect democratic conditions; this was one of Lasswell's concerns in the further development of policy research and theory and is lacking in other theories of policy change (Ingram, Schneider & deLeon, 2007). Therefore, being interpretative and looking outside the heuristic assembly line distinguishes the SCF from the U.S. mainstream policy frameworks. Theorists in this framework view policy issues as symbolic and substantive, and constructed in different ways. Some constructions compete with each other to convey a story or myth of why it is a problem to begin with, who is advantaged or disadvantaged by the problem, who is at fault, and how the problem can be solved (Birkland, 1997) (see Schneider & Ingram, 1993; Stone, 1988; Yanow, 1992).

Stone (1988) defines one type of social construction as causal stories, which are situations that are anthropocentric in nature and constructed by political actors who use language to fit the issue with their position while trying to capture the largest public interest. Stone's work uses literary devices, including colorful language, plots, characters, and metaphors, to scrutinize policy narratives. Similarly, Yanow (1992) focuses on myths created by policy narratives that are produced and believed by different groups of individuals in an effort to divert the public's attention away "from a puzzling part of their reality" (p. 401).

Researchers applying the SCF to study policy change have focused on the actions of advantaged and disadvantaged groups (e.g., Newton, 2005; Sidney, 2005). In the Everglades 170 year policy history, numerous policies have placed burdens and regulations on an advantaged group, which were either weakened or seldom enforced. For example, the 1994 Everglades Forever Act (EFA) required the sugar industry in the Everglades Agricultural Area to pay $320 million over 20 years to improve the water quality. The sugar industry spent millions of dollars and hired more than 36 lobbyists to fight this legislation (Fineout, 2004). Then in May of 2003, the industry benefited when Gov. Jeb Bush modified the Act by (1) extending the pollution cleanup deadline 10 years from 2006 to 2016 and (2) changing language in the original EFA. Specifically, he added the phrase "to the maximum extent possible" and removed "polluter pays." These modifications not only contradicted the EFA's original goal of a phosphorus limit of 10-parts-per-billion in the Everglades ecosystem, but also allowed the sugar industry to avoid paying new taxes on pollution set forth by the EFA (Knox, 2013).

Applying Multiple Frameworks

Sabatier (1999, p. 147) argued that the stages heuristic, "has outlived its usefulness and must be replaced, in large part because it is not a causal theory." In this regard, the current paradigm does not explain various elements of the policy process and limits the researcher to view the process from a single dimension. To apply multiple frameworks is similar to wearing 3-D glasses; suddenly layers upon layers of the process are visualized. Many researchers have successfully applied two or more frameworks in case studies because no one framework captures the entire policy-making process (e.g., Birkland, 1997; Dudley & Richardson, 1996; McBeth, Shanahan, Arnell, & Hathaway, 2007; Meijerink, 2005).

Birkland (1997) used the MSF, the ACF, and the SCF in his empirical study of natural and man-made disasters as focusing events in the policy-making process. Meijerink (2005) used four theoretical frameworks (ACF, MSF, PEF, and Epistemic Communities Framework) to gain complementary explanations of Dutch coastal flooding long-term policy development and concluded with rival hypotheses. Lastly, McBeth and coauthor's (2007) case study provides a basis for arguing the benefit of including the SCF; the discursive approach to studying policy change provides the analysis of social constructed language and symbols used in the complex policy process.

Other researchers question whether we should compare frameworks because they differ widely from their unit of analysis to their prediction versus description characteristics. Specific to this case study, it can be argued that the ACF and the SCF are not fully compatible. First, the ACF relies upon the stages heuristic and positivism, which provides an objective approach when analyzing policy change. Meanwhile, the SCF acknowledges the subjective and multi-reality nature of the policy process in which all participants bring subjective perceptions into social interactions. Second, the ACF fails to pay adequate attention to the processes by which changes occur in language, concepts, and ontology of policymakers. Yet, the SCF tends to ignore people behind the message and their interactions with each other (Cairney & Heikkila, 2014; Zahariadis, 1995; 1998).

By combining these frameworks, a more complete and holistic picture of the policy process is better understood, including individuals, subsystems, and problems or issues being framed and constructed. For example, the ACF assumes nonincremental changes are largely self-evident; however, what policymakers consider routine or a departure from past practices is a complex judgment that depends on their understanding. If policy theory is to account for both incremental and non-incremental policy change, then it must illustrate how new policy objectives and tactics come to be formulated and articulated. While the SCF does not conceptualize subsystems and institutions as comprehensively as other theoretical policy frameworks (Cairney & Heikkila, 2014), it is effective in finding symbols, beliefs, narratives, and perceptions among the coalitions.

Hajer's (1995) research illustrates this argument; his discourse analysis of acid rain coalitions concluded that multi-interpretable storylines--not shared knowledge and beliefs--aligned the coalitions. These results highlight flaws in the ACF as previously discussed. Specifically, he argued the ACF was missing discourses occurring in and between the coalitions, which he called discourse coalitions.

Policymaking is the struggle of ideas and their meaning. The U.S. model of how to study policy is characterized by objective and empirical beliefs, which fails to capture the idea that policy outcomes cannot be detached from the theories, ideas, and criteria for analyzing and describing policy. It is essential to recognize
shared meanings motivate people to action and meld individual striving
for collective action, [and] ideas are the medium of exchange in
policymaking, a mode of influence even more powerful than money, votes,
or guns. As such, policymaking is a constant discursive struggle over
the definitions of problems, the boundaries of categories used to
describe them, the criteria for their classification and assessment,
and the meanings of ideals that guide particular actions (Fischer,
2003, p. 60).

Therefore, inclusion of an empirical, objective theoretical framework with a more subjective, discursive approach could allow policy analysts to better understand the policy problem's complexity, competing rhetoric, and social context.


As part of a larger study (Knox, 2013), this in-depth single-case study design of the passage of Senate Bill 392 is analyzed with the ACF and the SCF. Senate Bill 392 presents a change in the language and scope of Everglades policy, and the informants' rich dialogue suggests the bill is sufficiently detailed to offer useful illustrations of the policy frameworks. This section provides a brief overview of the case study, and details the archival and interview data collection and analysis.

Case Study

Previous legislation, namely the Lake Okeechobee Protection Act and the Lake Okeechobee and Estuary Recovery Plan, were failing to obtain their goals of protecting Lake Okeechobee. The original goal of the 2004 Act was to reduce the amount of total phosphorus (TP) by 78 metric tons (from a baseline of 486 metric tons to 390 metric tons) within two years (James & Zhang, 2008). However, as seen in Table 1, by 2006 TP loads in the lake had increased to 795 metric tons. Much of this increase can be attributed to multiple hurricanes in the 2004 and 2005 seasons, as well as the residual (also referred to as legacy) phosphorus contained in the lake bed soil. A 2009 calculation of TP loads in Lake Okeechobee was 656 metric tons per year, which is four and a half times the annual Total Maximum Daily Load goal of 140 metric tons per year (E. Hughes, personal communication, September 8, 2009).

Gov. Charlie Crist signed Senate Bill 392-Florida State Statute 373.4595 Northern Everglades and Estuaries Protection Program--into law June 28, 2007. This bill "safeguard(s) and restore(s) the entire northern Everglades system, including the Lake Okeechobee watershed, as well as the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers and estuaries" (Florida Department, 2007, [paragraph] 4) (Figure 1). It allocates $200 million for the northern Everglades and expands the Save our Everglades Trust Fund through fiscal year 2019 - 2020. The bill mandates the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS), and affected local governments (8) develop two protection plans for the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee river watershed. (9)

Archival Data

Archival data were used to understand the Senate Bill 392 process from the meeting of the Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee and working groups until Gov. Crist signed it into law. Archival data included Florida Senate Committee Appearance Record cards from the March 18, 2007 Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee meeting, email messages between the working group members, and video of the Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee meeting where many participants spoke in support of the bill.

In addition, an in-depth review of historical information and ongoing coverage of the Everglades policy formation was conducted using:

* major national and Florida newspapers and magazines (10);

* federal, state, and local government agency and university websites (11);

* state staff analysis of Senate Bill 392 legislation; and

* nonprofit (12) and corporate (13) newsletters, websites, and discussion boards.


Of the 31 individuals active in passing Senate Bill 392, 22 semi-structured interviews were completed for the study (71% response rate). The interview population was selected from the nine speaker cards from the March 8, 2007 senate committee meeting, as well as email address lists provided by the organizing participants. Interviewees were primarily male (64%) and included representatives from government, non-profit, and private organizations (See Table 2). Six interviews were conducted in February 2008 as part of a pilot study, while the remaining 16 interviews were conducted between July and November of 2009, and March and May 2010. The interviews, each lasting between 45 and 90 minutes, allowed participants to talk freely and provide their interpretation of the policy-making process.

Interviewees answered questions about various aspects of passing Senate Bill 392, which created a focal point when recalling their role in the policy process, affected individuals, group dynamics during the working group meetings, and information gathering techniques (Appendix A). The interviewer began with a "grand tour" question and asked supplemental questions, which allowed the interviewee to elaborate and avoid inviting abstract reasoning or socially-desirable biases into the story (Spradley, 1979). (14) In this instance, interviewees provided a short description of his/her involvement with the development of Senate Bill 392.

Data Analysis

Interviews were digitally recorded and professionally transcribed. This primary data (approximately 550 pages), along with archival data, were analyzed using a modified grounded analysis (Strauss & Corbin, 1998); the interviews were open and axial coded for phrases and references pertaining to the frameworks.

The frameworks focused on different aspects of Senate Bill 392. In the ACF, the actors are viewed from a network perspective, namely who gets together to make the sell. (15) This framework focuses on dynamics between individuals involved in the policy-making process. When applying the ACF to the bill, general observations included various stakeholders and coalitions participating in the policy arena, external disturbances possibly affecting policy change, and policy learning (both instrumental and social). Coded phrases included "the easiest way to do it is just to pull everybody together and start hashing it out," "agency roles," "dominant" or "minor coalitions, in addition to noting various individuals and organizations involved in the process.

The SCF examines how the use of language and symbols may have arisen in a socially constructed course of action for the issue, as well as who is benefiting and losing with the policy change. This framework differs from the other frameworks because the focus is not solely on individual actors in the network or subsystem, but instead on the content of the sell/message and its potential effects on policy implementation and outcomes. The coded passages for this framework included "the words and the concepts," "narratives," and "consensus-based approach." Table 3 provides examples of the coding technique.


Applying the ACF and the SCF in this case study provides us with a fuller understanding of the policy-making process for Senate Bill 392. This section discusses the results of the analysis of this policy change, including the bill's history, individual's roles within the dominant and minor coalitions, and the social construction of the policy language development.

History of Senate Bill 392

FDEP published reports regarding the pollution in St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries, which provided new scientific information for the policymakers. A July 2002 report concluded there was evidence of impairment and ecosystem stress in the St. Lucie Estuary, and detailed "the loss of oyster and seagrass populations, fish abnormalities, increased sedimentation rates, high nutrient loadings, adverse fluctuations in normal estuarine salinity regimes, and impacts to invertebrate populations" (Graves, Thompson, & Fike, 2002, p. 3). These issues arose from the 1931 construction of the St. Lucie Canal (C-44), which connects Lake Okeechobee to the St. Lucie estuary system. Discharges from the lake down the C-44 have increased freshwater and sediments into the St. Lucie brackish estuary. (16) The sediments, referred to by local residents as "St. Lucie ooze," are "accumulating at a rate 2.5 times faster than historic or normal levels" (Graves et al., 2002, p. 7). The median total phosphorus levels in the St. Lucie estuary were greater than double the statewide estuarine median. Nitrogen and heavy metals (i.e., arsenic, cadmium, copper, mercury, nickel, and lead) were higher than the statewide estuarine medians (Graves et al., 2002; MacDonald et al., 1996).

Similarly, dredging and channelizing has modified the Caloosahatchee ecosystem. The primary canal carrying discharge water from Lake Okeechobee to the Gulf of Mexico is the S-79 canal. This ecosystem has experienced nearly twice the amount of discharge releases from Lake Okeechobee than St. Lucie's ecosystem, which has affected the sediment levels and freshwater amounts.

These reports and studies illustrated how previous Lake Okeechobee bills did not account for the estuaries located due east and west of the lake, nor the negative effects they were confronting from the large freshwater discharges. As discussed by an environmental non-profit organization scientist:
we had the drought in 2001 which really emphasized we don't have enough
water storage and severe rationing. And then we have really high water
years in 2003, 2004, and 2005 and massive estuary dumps. Also everybody
was absolutely incensed that the lake was in such bad shape and the
estuaries were in such bad shape...then people started paying
attention. It was not until we had the big natural disaster that
suddenly the public was aware of the problem. They started yelling at
their legislators. The legislators were being pressured to do
something. So everything just kind of lined up (personal communication,
September 9, 2009).

In order for the decision makers to avoid repeating mistakes by not taking into account these sensitive estuaries, substantial policy-oriented learning needed to take place. One of the learning results was the creation of a new policy instrument for this area: the Caloosahatchee-St. Lucie Rivers Corridor Advisory Committee. This committee brought together a wide variety of interests and, unlike the Water Resource Advisory Committee, local government officials were allowed to sit at the table with the rest of the stakeholders (former local elected official, personal communication, July 29, 2009). There were many interests for this particular bill:
You have Lake Okeechobee interests, you have Martin County interest,
you have Lee County interests. Lee County wants more water. Martin
County wants no water. Lake Okeechobee people want the lake at a higher
level. Sometimes they want it at a lower level...Then you have the
Miccosukee Indians. You have the Save the Everglades Foundation. You
have the Everglades National Park. They all have different interests in
what they are looking for (former local elected official, personal
communication, July 29, 2009).

Although this committee contained individuals from different sectors and organizations, they worked together for a common goal. The goal of the committee was
to come up with a plan that could be delivered to the legislature of
Florida and have a positive action, and it was a plan to restore the
estuaries. We had a plan to restore Kissimmee River basin. We had a
plan to restore Lake Okeechobee. We had a plan amongst many to restore
the Everglades. But there was never a plan for the rivers. So it was
our goal to develop those plans. Part of those plans was the various
time tables necessary to get to achieve our goals (former local elected
official, personal communication, July 29, 2009).

While this new legislation was a priority for the Governor's office, the State of Florida did not want to fund the committee. FDEP and SFWMD voluntarily organized and funded the committee. Gov. Jeb Bush gave the committee a tight deadline. The committee members met multiple times to draft legislation to expand the Lake Okeechobee and Estuary Recovery Plan, which would be the foundation for the 2007 Northern Everglades and Estuaries Protection Plan Bill. (17)

The committee debated a number of pressing issues over the course of four meetings including whether to dredge Lake Okeechobee, funding sources and mechanisms, quality and quantity of discharged water from the lake into the two estuaries, and whether to include the Kissimmee River Basin in the new legislation. During the second meeting, Lee County Commissioner Tammy Hall recommended expanding the Lake Okeechobee Protection Act language to include protection for the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries. As a former local elected official explained: "we had lots of discussion about the Lake Okeechobee Restoration Plan and how could we adapt that to the rivers and estuaries. Because it was a good basis to start with...So we had a really good start with the Lake Okeechobee Plan" (personal communication, July 28, 2009). However, since the plan did not fully account for the lake's discharges effect on the two estuaries, a new plan had to be developed. As another local elected official elaborated:
We started in 2006 with the legislature having concerns over the Lake
Okeechobee regulation schedule and the challenges of frequent and large
releases and their effects on the Caloosahatchee River. Part of the
Lake Okeechobee Protection Act, which is a separate statute, it refers
to the St. Lucie River and the Caloosahatchee River as receiving bodies
of water. It did not even identify these very unique and important
estuaries by name and the focus of the Lake Okeechobee Protection Act
was really on Lake Okeechobee and not really recognizing the
detrimental impacts it was having.

Comm. Hall recognized the challenge facing the group submitting a report to the legislature within three months. The committee members constructed the language and John Fumero, a Lee County lawyer, voluntarily drafted the Lake Okeechobee and Estuary Protection Plan. Rep. Trudi Williams (R--Fort Myers) sent the draft legislation in time for the start of the 2007 legislative session. Senate President Ken Pruitt (R--Port St. Lucie) gave the bill to Sen. Burt Saunders (R--Naples), Chairman of the Joint Committee on Everglades Oversight.

The House and Senate environmental committees separately expanded upon the drafted legislation and ended up with two separate, but similar, bills (i.e., Senate Bill 392 and House Bill 7157). Rep. Stan Mayfield's (R--Vero Beach; deceased) House Committee heard the bill before Rep. Williams presented it to the Senate. The Senate version was the final selection voted upon on the floor of the Florida House and Senate and passed unanimously (Senate 35-0; House 116-0). Gov. Crist signed Senate Bill 392 into law June 28, 2007.

Coalitions and Roles of the Working Group

During Senate Committee meetings in Tallahassee, additional dynamics occurred between various stakeholders in the working group. This group, consisting of diverse coalitions, was different from the advisory committee and included representatives from state government agencies, environmental non-profit organizations, local governments, state and local elected officials, and agricultural and development lobbyists. The ACF incorporates key players who make the policy process work, which were found within the coalition of interviewees who participated in the working group for Senate Bill 392.

Similar to Ellison and Newmark's research (2010) and based on interview analysis, the dominant coalition was comprised of elected state government officials and representatives from state government agencies. This coalition formed before Gov. Crist's Administration was in office. As a male state department official explained, "Gov. Bush and president of the senate, some house members, secretary of FDEP, commissioner of agriculture, and the executive director of the water management district--South Florida Water Management District--all came together" (personal communication, August 21, 2009). Sen. Saunders was witnessed as the dominant force during working group meetings by other group members. "It's pretty clear the committee was going to take the lead. Sen. Saunders was the chair, so Sen. Saunders took the lead" (Florida Senate legislative policy analyst, personal communication, August 20, 2009).

Minor coalitions within this working group included environmental, agricultural, and business/development interests, in addition to local government officials. As a staff member explains, each coalition had to designate a spokesperson.
The general rule of thumb we do in these work groups is the
environmental groups get one spokesman, the developers get one
spokesman, agriculture gets one spokesman. That way you 're not
getting eight different people who represent the same group trying to
overtake the meeting (Florida Senate legislative policy analyst,
personal communications, August 20, 2009).

Within these groups were teams of lobbyists. "The major players in the group had their own lobbying teams" (Male agriculture lobbyist, personal communication, August 27, 2009).

During the passing of the bill, two disputes occurred between Sen. Saunders in the dominant coalition and two minor coalitions. In the first incident, an environmental representative argued the bill was not environmentally stringent enough for the minor coalition. As another working group member noticed: "they (the minor coalition) were basically advocating that the bill was not strong enough without the Environmental Resource Permit stuff, and that irritated Burt Saunders, and he wouldn't talk to them for a while" (Environmental non-profit organization policy representative, personal communication, August 19, 2009). The environmental representative went so far as to speak to the media about their position calling the bill "essentially meaningless" (Ash, 2007, [paragraph]6). The primary concern regarded developers postponing taking action to reduce runoff pollution by tying up the "state's rulemaking process up in court for months or years" (Ash, 2007, [paragraph]8).

In the second dispute, a local government official in a minor coalition wanted a change in the draft language by the working group in the final draft. When a member of another minor coalition notified these officials of the changes, they flew overnight to Tallahassee to meet with the state elected official the next day. After agreeing to delay a Senate vote, the state elected official agreed to meet with the local government officials to review changes in the final version of the bill.
That was the longest week of my life because we literally went in to a
closed-door session with big land owners, agriculture, a senate staff,
a house staff... and we sat and went over word by word, line by line of
this legislation and rewrote the entire piece in very long session
basically over probably thirty hours of that week (Local elected
official, personal communication, August 5, 2009).

This minor coalition's victory over the dominant coalition resulted in having their voices heard and changes made, which is one was policy changes under the ACF.

Other interviewees took on roles during the numerous meetings for Senate Bill 392, such as the environmental nonprofit organization policy representative who viewed her role as the negotiator and possible policy broker.
One of my major contributions was at one point things were getting
somewhat derailed because of the ERP [Environmental Resource Permit]
issue, and one of the environmental groups had sort of taken the
position that the bill wasn't strong enough the way it was written
without that. And Saunders committed to having a separate bill that had
the ERP portion in it, and so there was some meeting... at the
agriculture commissioner's conference that had the whole panoply of
stakeholders... the water management district had brought some draft
language about addressing the ERP. There was some discussion about it
and it was controversial with the agriculture and development
interests. I suggested kind of the simplistic solution that people
bought into and which had to do with making a sentence clear... this
one sentence was put in there, and that kind of unstuck that particular
impasse (personal communication, February 16, 2009).

This participant, new to the process, had joined the working group in February 2007 before the legislative session started; therefore, she did not have any alliances with other working group members/participants. It can be argued from the ACF's perspective that this participant was filling the role of negotiator and policy broker because she was a weak tie, not affiliated with any strong ties within the network, and had freedom of movement (Burt, 2002; Granovetter, 1973). Other major participant roles are depicted in Table 3.

Everglades Policy Network

There is evidence of policy networks in this study with a select number of participants interacting with each other on a regular basis over a long period. As Fischer highlights, these networks are "based on the exchange of information and influence between participants, with those having little or nothing to exchange usually being relegated to the margins, if not excluded" (2003, p. 33). This network approach, as seen in the ACF, is illustrated in this study. A regional district official said those involved in the passage of Senate Bill 392 have worked together for many years moving in and out of different positions with state agencies that they "have each other's backs." In this regard, each individual is not representing his/her group or agency (or as per the ACF, not representing their coalitions beliefs), but working together for the larger policy goal of protecting the environment. This official elaborated, "We all have the same goal, just different ways of achieving it." For example, the male regional district official and the female state department official had worked together before he moved over to the regional agency.

Based on these definitions and evidenced from some interviews, it can be argued there is an Everglades policy network and possibly an Everglades policy monopoly. Groups within the policy-making process attempt to maintain the current policy problem image because this framework has not only aided in achieving a policy monopoly, but also has become affiliated with a flourishing policy monopoly (McBeth et al., 2007; Baumgartner et al., 2014). This idea of a policy monopoly is evidenced by a female state department official's explanation of the policy process: "when you deal in the legislative arena, and you deal with the environmental field, you deal with the same ten people all the time."

So it leads us to ask: would Senate Bill 392 have passed if it were not linked to the Everglades restoration program? Possibly, however a male industry lobbyist makes this point:
So this recent legislation is an add-on to that original bill [Lake
Okeechobee Protection Act]. What was added to it--you know, it's got
the misleading of the northern Everglades. This [bill] has nothing to
do with the Northern Everglades, but they [working group] thought that
was a more appealing label. The real focus was to have a more effective
system here and would take into account the separate effects on both
estuaries, and they called it northern Everglades. It was really a lake
and estuary bill (personal communication, February 16, 2009).

All of the interviewees were asked "Where did the Northern Everglades Bill originate from?" Of the 20 interviewees who answered the question, 45% answered it was an expansion of the Lake Okeechobee Protection Act; 30% said it originated from unregulated Lake Okeechobee overflow into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers and estuaries; and 25% said it originated from political leadership either in the state government or with a government agency.

Policy problems and images surrounding the Everglades ecosystem have received national and international attention. Everglades' bills are often referred to as "feel-good environmental bill[s]" (Environmental non-profit organization policy representative) that are associated with core political values. Most theories of policy change highlight the political and economic power and benefits of Everglades policies, including increased funding mechanisms, bipartisan support, and public support (Gonzalez, 2005; Knox, 2013; Taylor, 2007; Weisskoff, 2005). Could an Everglades policy monopoly exist that actors in the policy process want to maintain is a question for future research.

From the SCF's viewpoint, it can be argued the new label "Northern Everglades" insinuates there is a southern Everglades system. This leaves open the possibility of framing future Everglades' bills in order to acquire funding from new sources and to gain additional support. In addition, it can have a negative impact on other policies affecting private property, agricultural practices north of Lake Okeechobee, and local government decision making.

More importantly, as previous research concluded, Everglades policies that place penalties and restrictions on advantaged groups (e.g., agriculture and development interests) are seldom enforced by the SFWMD and are weakened by government officials (Knox, 2013). Applying the SCF explains the potential, unintended, negative impacts of including "Everglades" in the bill's title - namely the advantaged groups' previous actions to weaken other Everglades legislation could affect the implementation and outcomes of Senate Bill 392. As previously mentioned, the environmental coalitions alluded to potential future actions by one of the advantaged groups (i.e., developers) to delay the implementation of Senate Bill 392 by tying up the "state's rulemaking process up in court for months or years" (Ash, 2007, [paragraph]8).

Social Construction of Senate Bill 392

The SCF literature states that politicians perpetuate the social construction of the policy. This is witnessed in Senate Bill 392 with sponsor Sen. Saunders and his staff being involved in each step of the process. He viewed his role as the leader of the group: "There was no consensus and my role was to get the groups together and achieve some consensus on the issues that were keeping us from getting the legislation approved" (personal communication, August 5, 2009). A local government lawyer agreed with Sen. Saunders. After speaking to many legislators, he observed there was "absolutely no consensus for such a mammoth undertaking" (personal communication, September 1, 2009). Although the senator did not personally attend a majority of the working group meetings, he advised his policy analyst to inform others in the meetings what he did and did not want included in the bill:
The members tells us [the senate staff] to go back and make it very
clear to the [working] group that this is what I'm going to sit on, and
I ain 't changing it. Then the group will just look up. Okay, no reason
to waste our time on that one. The members are very clear on where
they're going (Florida Senate legislative policy analyst, personal
communication, August 20, 2009).

In addition, members influenced public support by convincing their constituents to submit comments to the newspapers, thereby perpetuating or creating a social construction of the issue at hand: "one of the senators or house members will say it'd be really good if we saw a nice editorial, because that might sway the governor" (Florida Senate legislative policy analyst, personal communication, August 20, 2009). However, as the findings reflect, it is not only the politicians who are responding to, perpetuating, and creating the social construction; all of the participants in the policy-making process have a hand in it as well.

Fifty percent of the interviewees (11 of 22) repeatedly said the working group used a consensus-based approach when working together on Senate Bill 392. The process of a consensus-based approach is in itself a social construction and rooted philosophically in social constructionism. By relying on this type of decision-making approach, meaning is rhetorically created to become reality by reaching a consensus within the group (Peterson, Peterson, & Peterson, 2005). A female state department official explains the environmental legislative arena is comprised of the "same 10 people all the time" or the "usual suspects" and comments "we probably all have kind of this warped idea of how things work" (personal communication, August 19, 2009).

The consensus-based approach has been critiqued as a social construction, yet use of science in consensus-based, decision-making processes helps create common ground among participants and stakeholders (Leach, 2006). Although decision making by consensus sounds good in theory, it leads one to ask: who has the greatest power within the group and has the advantage to shape group consensus to support a continuance of current hierarchical relationships (Peterson et al., 2005). Future research analyzing the SCF with the ACF's network approach could shed light on this aspect of the policy-making process.


Many theoretical frameworks are available to study policy change within the policy-making process. Of those frameworks, the ACF and the SCF were chosen and applied to this micro-level single-case study, which led to many interesting results. First, Senate Bill 392 was an incremental shift from the Lake Okeechobee Protection Act, but has the potential for radical, non-incremental policy change. Second, it can be argued there is a strong Everglades policy network and the bill benefited from this network of stakeholders. Lastly, by including "Everglades" in the legislation title, there is not only the potential for advantaged groups to benefit from this expanded geographic boundary and political scope, but also the potential for these groups to take action to weaken or not enforce the bill.

Overall, this study illustrates a functionally specialized policy subsystem in which different actors have developed specific roles, and in which there is general agreement about goals and appropriate programmatic actions. A changed occurred in the perceived nature of the problem (i.e., phosphorous flows into the estuaries during the 2004 hurricane season) and actors agreed in a consensus-based, decision-making process that the area north of Lake Okeechobee needed to be addressed. Policymakers viewed Senate Bill 392 as a radical, non-incremental change, but the bill was phrased in preexisting terminology to make the change appear simply as a small, incremental adjustment to the Lake Okeechobee Protection Act.

Yet, if the study stopped here, only one narrative would be told. By applying the SCF to the case study data, we see a larger picture of how the language in Senate Bill 392 creates a more radical, non-incremental policy change. The new language, "Northern Everglades," may have lasting effects on the geographic boundary and the political scope of future Everglades and water policies in Florida. This expansion of the Everglades restoration program to north of Lake Okeechobee could open new funding sources, but will place an additional strain on the limited resources with which these policymakers are constantly facing. More importantly, the inclusion of "Everglades" has the potential negative effect of the advantaged groups taking action to weaken the implementation of Senate Bill 392, which will affect policy and management outcomes.

Although the ACF accounts for radical policy change, there was no external disturbance witnessed in Senate Bill 392. Analysis in this study reveals that although the policy was framed as a small, incremental change stemming from the Lake Okeechobee Protection Plan, it was actually more substantial than this. Thus, this case study shows us policymakers' understanding of policy and policy change is not automatic and spontaneous, but is itself discursive and understood by policy makers to be socially constructed.

Single-case study designs tend to be critiqued for external validity since results from such studies are harder to generalize to larger populations (Sobeck, 2003; Yin, 1994). Yet, by studying policy change using qualitative methods, we are capturing human behavior within the policy-making process with these micro-level examinations. The resulting contextual knowledge allows us to "examine the potential of the frameworks and identify inconsistencies between the assumptions and the local case" (Sobeck, 2003, p. 372). Therefore, although this single case study narrowly focuses on policy change, it can potentially improve these frameworks by providing feedback. Lastly, this case study was conducted after working group and committee meetings were held, information and data were collected, e-mails were exchanged, legislature voted, and Gov. Crist signed the bill into law. As such, the evidence largely has been presented as post hoc interpretations. Field observations of future policy formative processes may have the potential to offer an additional perspective on relevant human interactions.


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(8) These local governments include Lee, Hendry, Charlotte, Glades, Okeechobee, Martin, and St. Lucie counties. (9) Gov. Crist and the Florida Legislature received the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Construction Project Phase II Technical Plan on February 1, 2008, and the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers Watershed Protection Plans on January 1, 2009. (10) A daily Google search of local, state, national, and international news articles (e.g., New York Times, Washington Post, St. Pete Times, Tampa Tribune, Miami Herald, Time Magazine, etc.) for the keyword "Everglades" between November 2008 and June 2010. Approximately 2,000 news articles were reviewed from this search source. (11) For example, U.S. Geological Survey, SFWMD, FDEP, DACS, Government Accountability Office, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Florida Office of Policy Program Analysis and Government Accountability, Florida Legislature, Florida International University Everglades Archives, National Research Council, and U.S. Census. (12) For example, The Nature Conservancy, Audubon, Everglades Foundation, The Everglades Trust, Friends of the Everglades, and Everglades Coalition. (13) For example, U.S. Sugar, Flo Sun, and Florida Crystals. (14) Grand tour questions intentionally are designed to permit interviewees to recount an event or circumstances as either particularly vivid or situated in "everyday" routines (Goffman, 1959). It is important that the grand tour question not ask for value-laden perspectives or judgments. In this way, once an initial story is established, the interviewee is less likely to respond to subsequent questions with socially-desirable responses that are reactive to the interviewer's presence. (15) Often associated with policy entrepreneurs, a policy "sell" or "brokering" involves the convincing of policy ideas and alternatives to different stakeholders in the policy-making process (Mintrom, 2009; Mintrom & Vergari, 1998). (16) Estuaries are ecologically sensitive areas where river(s) meet the ocean. They are brackish meaning they contain a mix of fresh and salt water that is driven by the tides. In Florida, they are a nursery for a variety of at least 70% of fisheries, including commercial and recreational fishes, crustaceans, and shellfish (Florida Department, 2010). Large amounts of unregulated and polluted freshwater being discharged from the lake upsets this natural balance. This can result in red tides, algae blooms, and fish kills. (17) The meetings were September 28, 2006, in Fort Myers, October 19, 2006, in Jensen Beach, November 16, 2006, in Okeechobee, and January 18, 2007, in Fort Pierce.

Appendix A: Interview Questions

1. I wonder if you can recall your organization's involvement with SB 392. When you gather your recollection, go ahead and tell me about it.

* Where did it come from?

* Was this bill a continuation from a previous bill, new bill, or an extension from an interim project?

* If not, was there a triggering event?

2. Can you tell me about your personal role with Senate Bill 392?

* Can you provide examples of your involvement? Any meetings you participated in and/or attended?

* Who are some of the people who pay attention to what you're doing?

* What kind of groups do you interact with?

* Can you describe how the various interest groups responded or became involved with the bill?

* How did the groups get along with each other?

3. Were there any individuals involved who helped network people, mobilized public opinion, advocated new ideas, specified alternatives to the bill?

* If so, what were their roles in the process?

* What were your interactions with these individual(s)?

4. What were your information sources for this bill?

* Where do you get your information for this bill?

* What kind of information did you seek?

* How do you deal with incomplete information?


University of Central Florida
Table 2
General information about the interviewees (Knox, 2013)

Government Employees            1. Aid to state legislator
(107 years of government        2. Female state department official
experience combined)            3. Florida House legislative policy
                                4. Florida Senate legislative policy
                                5. Lawyer with state government
                                6. Local government lawyer
                                7. Male state department official
                                8. Regional district official
                                9. Senior assistant to state legislator
                               10. State department program coordinator
Nonprofit Organization         11. Director of environmental non-profit
Representatives (68 years of       organization
experience in environmental    12. Environmental nonprofit organization
non-profit organizations           policy representative
combined)                      13. Environmental nonprofit organization
                               14. Environmental nonprofit organization
Elected Officials (32 years    15. Former high-ranking state legislator
of service in an elected       16. Former local elected official
position combined)             17. Former state legislator
                               18. Local elected official
                               19. State legislator
Lobbyists (60 years of         20. Female agriculture lobbyist
lobbying experience            21. Male agriculture lobbyist
Private Sector                 22. Environmental/government consultant

Table 3
Coding technique examples

Example 1 :
Florida Senate legislative policy analyst: "if a politician's in the
room, things grind to a halt."

Memo: Politician: specifically referencing Sen. Saunders. Note: other
interviewees referenced the "power" the senator had in various
committee meetings. Add new category: Dominant Coalition/ACF.

Memo: The analyst states this sentence matter-of-factly and then ends
the sentence abruptly as if no further discussion is needed. Other
interviewees used the same tone when speaking of the senator. Add
Sen. Saunders as the lead in the dominant coalition.

Example 2:
Florida Senate legislative policy analyst: "when you write it [the
intent language], you can start to dissect who was sitting in the room."

Memo: "start to dissect who was sitting in the room" alludes to the
social construction of the intent language. Note: other interviews
reference bill language in a "consensus" approach. Add new category:
Consensus-based Approach/SCF.

Table 3
Major Roles of the Participants in the Passage of Senate Bill 392

Interviewee                  Role

Regional District Official   Charismatic leader making his rounds in the
                             House and Senate gaining support for the
Male State Department        Administrator setting up and hosting the
Official                     working group meetings in his conference
                             room, making copies, and supplying
                             resources as needed.
Female State Department      Editor for the bill as it progressed
Official                     through the working group.
Florida Senate Legislative   Neutral, objective moderator of the
Policy Analyst               meetings and filter of information to Sen.
                             Saunders and the Senate Environmental
                             Preservation and Conservation Committee.
Florida House Legislative    Meeting facilitator who kept discussions
Policy Analyst               productive and progressing forward.
State Department Program     Drafter/writer of the legislation who
Coordinator                  pulled from their past Everglades
                             legislative experience.
State Legislator             Information gatherer, especially for
                             technical information needed by working
                             group members.
Former State Legislator      Mediator to initiate compromise and
                             consensus between stakeholders.
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Author:Knox, Claire Connolly
Publication:Public Administration Quarterly
Article Type:Case study
Date:Sep 22, 2016

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