State Government

The Parts of State Government

According to the 10th amendment to the United States Constitution, all the governmental powers that are not specifically given by the United States of America, are then reserved for the states. This can be traced back to when the 13 original colonies were formed as part of a federal group serving under royal charters, with their own laws. Every state government in the United States is organized under the same pretext as what the federal government is. This means that there are three branches of government in each state: the federal, the executive, and the judicial.

The executive branch of each state government is headed by a governor, who is elected every four years. With the exception of one state, every state legislative branch is a two house system. Nebraska is the only state in the United States that operates on a unicameral system, meaning that they only have one body in their legislative branch. In each of these states the upper house in each is called the “senate” and the lower house is the House of Representatives, a term which exists for only 41 of the 49 states. The other terms that refer to this body of government in the other states are General Assembly, State Assembly, and House of Delegates. Beginning in 1964 Senators were elected from districts of equal population because before the districts were not based upon population. The case that was brought before the Supreme Court was Reynolds vs Sims and the verdict of this case state that Senators much be elected from districts that were each equally represented in size (population). The judicial branch in each state is headed by the Supreme Court of that state. Either the top judge or judges from the Supreme Court is elected by the people or appointed to the court by the legislature. It is interesting to note that the highest court in New York is the Court of Appeals and the second highest court in the state is called the Supreme Court. In most of the other states, the Court of Appeals is the second highest court with Supreme Court being the highest. The number of members for each of the bodies in the legislature and the Supreme Court all differ from state to state. The representation in the states will normally depend upon the population of the state and the number of counties within the state, which are usually the dividing lines in legislative districts, along with population.

It is interesting to speak of the power that state governments possess. First of all, these governments are still required to operate under the Constitution of the United States of American. This means that the states are allowed to have laws that are more strict than those of the federal government but are not allowed to have ones that are more lenient than the federal laws.

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