But although many Americans don’t think much about what’s in their peanut butter, Yackee is one of few who knows that the childhood favorite must contain at least 90 percent peanuts, as well as how that standard was established.
Yackee, associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s La Follette School of Public Affairs and Department of Political Science, is a leading scholar on the regulatory policymaking process at federal agencies.
She’s published groundbreaking studies on the rulemaking process, a relatively transparent and potentially democratizing system that affects standards for everything from child car seats to organic food, clean air to derivatives trading.
In the coming months, Yackee will also dig into a study of Wisconsin’s rulemaking process, which features greater legislative involvement than at the federal level.
“Regulatory policymaking can seem overly legalistic and is somewhat removed from the fast-paced world of legislative policymaking, but the stakes are equally high,” she says. “All of us, when we walk out of our house every morning, are impacted by existing rules and regulations, and just for that, we should be concerned about them and who influences the rulemaking process.”
While anyone who’s taken a high school civics course knows the basics of how a bill becomes a law, the process of rulemaking, which can have as much influence — or more — on the daily life of Americans, is lesser known and studied.
Yackee’s efforts to produce comprehensive data for the empirical study of rulemaking processes on a large scale are unprecedented, says Carolyn J. Heinrich, professor and director of the La Follette School of Public Affairs.