The Legislative Branch at the State Level
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The Legislative Branch at the State Level


Today we will learn about the
Legislative Branch at the State level. The Constitution has an interesting way of explaining the powers of the States. The Tenth Amendment states, that many
powers not given to the Federal government, but not specifically denied
to the States belong to the States. These are known as Reserved Powers. One of these powers reserved for the States is the right for the states to establish their own systems of state government, each state has developed their own
system of government, but each state also has three branches; consisting of a Legislative Branch called the State Legislature, an Executive Branch consisting of a governor, and a Judicial Branch consisting of a court system. Each state also has a State Constitution with a few things in common, each State Constitution addresses one: a bill of rights that gives citizens individual
rights, two: the terms of office for each of the three branches, three: a system for the local governments, which might include towns, cities, and counties, four: an outline of state boards and agencies, like the Board of Education, and the Health Department, and five: a plan for state finances, like how the state will raise and spend money. Now that we know about the three
branches of government at the state level, and what State Constitutions
include, let’s focus on the Legislative Branch The Legislative Branch at the state level is usually referred to as the State Legislature and in most states, this Legislature consists of a State House of Representatives and a State
Senate, each state is divided into legislative
districts, and State Representatives, and State Senators represent these districts. State legislatures have quite a few powers; they oversee elections, collect
taxes, direct public education, and establish schools, create laws, regulate business, and set the standards for licenses and permits. State legislators are also forbidden from doing certain things, they cannot coin money, they may not pass ex post facto laws, which make an act a crime after that act has already been committed, they cannot pass bills of attainder which punished someone without a trial, they may not break contracts
they have made, and they may not tax imports, or exports without the approval of the United States Congress. Last, we will look at the Bill to Law
Process at the State level, in our example the bill to law process will begin in the State House of Representatives. A bill is a proposed law Step 1: first the bill must be introduced by a State Representative, any citizen may write a law, but it must be introduced or suggested by a member of the State Legislature. Step 2: after a bill is introduced, it must
be sent to a committee where the bill will be debated, rewritten, or rejected. A committee is a small group of Representatives who work on all bills
pertaining to a specific topic, committee meetings are public,so citizens may attend and give their opinions, but it is ultimately up to the legislators to
write a bill. Most bills die in committee, because
legislators either cannot agree on a final version, or do not feel the bill addresses an issue that is important enough to be a priority, which brings us to step three, if a bill does make it out of committee, it must be voted on and passed by the entire State House Step 4: if the bill is passed by the entire House, it is then introduced in the State Senate and repeats the entire process if the same exact version of the bill actually passes in the State Senate that brings us to step 5, the bill is sent to the Governor to be signed into law. Usually governor’s sign bills that make
it all the way to their desks, however they do have the option to veto a bill, or refuse to sign it. If legislators still want this bill to
become a law, the veto can only be overridden by a 2/3 vote in both the
State House and the State Senate.

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