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State & Local Government. Problems with state constitutions ….unnecessary details, burdensome restrictions, repetition, outdated…. length – most are between 15,000 & 40,000 words – Alabama – 340,000 words!! -- distrust of gov’t – details to prevent misuse of power

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State & Local Government

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State local government

State & Local Government

Problems with state constitutions unnecessary details burdensome restrictions repetition outdated

Problems with state constitutions….unnecessary details, burdensome restrictions, repetition, outdated…..

  • length – most are between 15,000 & 40,000 words – Alabama – 340,000 words!!

    -- distrust of gov’t – details to prevent misuse of power

    -- failure to separate fundamental law from statutory law

    NY – 56,326 words

What s the difference

…..what’s the difference?

  • Fundamental law – laws of basic and lasting importance

    ……stuff that shouldn’t change much

  • Statutory law – passed by legislature

    ….. day to day stuffffff

State local government

  • age - 33 states have const. more than 100 years old; 19 still have the const. they entered the union with

    NY – has had 5 constitutions:

    1777, 1821, 1846, 1894, & the current one adopted in 1938

State legislatures

State Legislatures

  • Aka: general assembly, legislative assembly, general court

  • Law-making body

  • All bicameral except Nebraska

    - upper house = Senate

    - lower house = House of Representatives, Assembly, General Assembly, House of Delegates

    ** NY – Senate - 62 members

    & Assembly - 150 members

How are state legislaltors elected

How are state legislaltors elected?

  • Legislator – person who serves on the legislature

  • Elected by the people from districts within the state

NY state senate districts

NY state assembly districts

How are districts drawn

How are districts drawn??

  • Districts are drawn by legislators

    - redrawn every 10 years – census

  • Are supposed to be drawn on basis of population equality

    “Legislators represent people, not trees or acres”

What is gerrymandering

What is “gerrymandering”?

  • The deliberate rearrangement of the boundaries of congressional districts to influence election outcomes

Elbridge Gerry – 1812 – Massachusetts governor

What is the purpose of gerrymandering

What is the purpose of gerrymandering?

  • to either concentrate opposition votes into a few districts to gain more seats for the majority in surrounding districts

    -- “ packing”

  • or to diffuse minority strength across many districts --”dilution”

Isn t that illegal

Isn’t that illegal???

Kinda sortof, but, not exactly…..

Groups are watching

What formal qualifications do most states set out for legislators

What formal qualifications do most states set out for legislators?

  • Age, citizenship, residency

    - in most states – reps at least 21, senate at least 25

    - NY – assembly & senate - 18

    - resident of NY for 5 years & of district 12 months prior to election

What is the usual term

What is the usual term?

  • 2 or 4 years

    - in most states senate serves longer than lower house

    - NY – both houses serve 2 year terms

Do they make a lot of money???

Hmmmmm let s see

Hmmmmm….let’s see…..

  • Legislative salaries per state

What are eight of the most important legislative powers of state legislatures

What are eight of the most important legislative powers of state legislatures?

  • tax, spend, borrow, police, establish courts, define crimes and provide for their punishment, regulate commercial activities, maintain public schools

What are three non legislative functions of state legislatures

What are three non-legislative functions of state legislatures?

  • executive – approve governors appointments

  • judicial – impeachment

  • constituent – constitution-making and amending

How does the committee system work

How does the committee system work?

  • laws are referred to committees for recommendations to full houses

    - similar to Congress

    From where do a large number of bills originate?

  • variety of public and private sources

    ex- officers & agencies of state & local govt

    - interest groups, private citizens

Direct democracy at the state level

Direct Democracy at the state level

  • Initiative, referendum, recall

  • Allow citizens to become directly involved in their government by drafting and voting on laws or by removing elected officials



  • Allows citizens to propose laws & amendments and place them on the ballot for a vote

  • Most commonly used

    form of direct


State local government


  • Provides for a popular vote on laws passed by the legislature


  • Allows citizens to remove elected officials from office

What is the structure and functions of county government

What is the structure and functions of county government?

County – major unit of local gov’t in most states


  • County board – governing body

  • Boards or commissions

  • Appointed officials

  • Elected officials

State local government


  • Administration of state & county laws

  • Maintaining roads, jails, schools, collecting taxes to fund services

Hmmmm…let’s see…..

Towns, etc in Orange County

What does a town government do

What does a town government do??

  • Delivers services provide by county & city govts in other areas

  • Usually includes rural and urban areas

  • Governed by an elected board

What is a special district

What is a special district?

  • Performs govt functions at the local level

  • Run by an elected board

  • Ex: school district, fire district

How does a place become a city

How does a place become a “city”?

  • Can be established as a city by the state through the process of incorporation

  • Need certain # population

  • Needs a charter – city’s basic law or


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