- State governments of the United States
State governments in the United States (sometimes referred to as "The State") is generally structured in accordance with the laws of the various individual states. Typically each state has one unilateral tier with multiple branches, including the Executive, Legislative and Judicial.
Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, all governmental powers not granted to the federal government by the Constitution are reserved for the states or to the people.
The governments of the 13 colonies which formed the original union under the Constitution trace their history back to the royal charters which established them during the year of
colonialism. Most other states were organized as federal territories before forming their governments and requesting admittance into the union.
U.S. states have a state constitution and a three-branch government similar to that of the federal government. While the U.S. Constitution mandates that each state shall have a "republican form" of government, this particular structure is not mandatory.
executive branchof every state is headed by an elected governor. Most states also have a lieutenant governor. Most states have a plural executive, in which several key members of the executive branch are directly elected by the people and serve alongside the governor.
As a sovereign entity, each state government is free to organize its executive departments and agencies in any way it likes. This has resulted in substantial diversity among the states with regard to every aspect of how their governments are organized; the organizational chart for each state's executive branch can be characterized as "
legislative branchof the US States is bicameral, except for Nebraska, which has a Unicamerallegislature. While the Nebraska legislature is officially known, like most, as the "Legislature", it is more commonly called the "Senate", as its members are officially called "Senators". In the majority of states (26), the state's legislature—that is, the upper and lower house referred to as one—is simply called "The Legislature". Another 19 states name their legislature the "General Assembly", while the legislatures of Oregonand North Dakotashare the appellation "Legislative Assembly". The most unusual moniker for a state legislature is "General Court", which is used by both Massachusettsand New Hampshire.
In all 49 states with
bicameral legislatures, the upper house is referred to as the "Senate". The exception to this rule is Nebraska's unicameral, which has a single house.
Until 1964, state senators were generally elected from districts that were not necessarily equal in population. In some cases state senate districts were based partly on county lines; in the vast majority of states the senate districts provided proportionately greater representation to rural areas. However, in the 1964 decision
Reynolds v. Sims, the U.S. Supreme Court decreed that, unlike the United States Senate, state senates must be elected from districts of approximately equal population.
In 41 of the 49 states with lower houses, the lower house is called the "House of Representatives". The name "House of Delegates" is used in
Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. Californiaand Wisconsincall their lower house the "State Assembly", while Nevadaand New Yorksimply call the lower house the "Assembly". And New Jerseycalls its lower house the "General Assembly".
judicial branchis typically headed by a state supreme courtwhich hears appeals from lower state courts. The structure of courts and the methods by which judges are elected or appointed are determined by legislation or the state constitution. Oddly, New York's highest court is called the Court of Appeals, while its trial court is known as the Supreme Court.
In order to complete their duties states form a variety of offices with particular assignments designated by the various branches. These offices may include:
State education agency
State department of ecology
State department of health
State department of transportation
Each state has an official seal.
Local government in the United States
Federal government of the United States
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