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State & Local Government Problems with state constitutions ….unnecessary details, burdensome restrictions, repetition, outdated….. length – most are.

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Presentation on theme: "State & Local Government Problems with state constitutions ….unnecessary details, burdensome restrictions, repetition, outdated….. length – most are."— Presentation transcript:

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2 State & Local Government

3 Problems with state constitutions ….unnecessary details, burdensome restrictions, repetition, outdated…..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

4 …..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

5 age 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

6 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 members

7 How are state legislaltors elected? Legislator – person who serves on the legislature Elected by the people from districts within the state NY state senate districtsNY state assembly districts

8 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”

9 What is “gerrymandering”? The deliberate rearrangement of the boundaries of congressional districts to influence election outcomes Elbridge Gerry – 1812 – Massachusetts governor

10 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”

11 Isn’t that illegal??? Isn’t that illegal??? Kinda sortof, but, not exactly….. Groups are watching

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

13 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???

14 Hmmmmm….let’s see….. Legislative salaries per state Legislative salaries per state

15 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

16 What are three non-legislative functions of state legislatures? executive – approve governors appointments judicial – impeachment constituent – constitution-making and amending

17 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

18 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

19 Initiative Allows citizens to propose laws & amendments and place them on the ballot for a vote Most commonly used form of direct form of direct democracy democracy

20 Referendum Provides for a popular vote on laws passed by the legislature Recall Allows citizens to remove elected officials from office

21 What is the structure and functions of county government? County – major unit of local gov’t in most states Structure: CCCCounty board – governing body BBBBoards or commissions AAAAppointed officials EEEElected officials

22 Functions: AAAAdministration of state & county laws MMMMaintaining roads, jails, schools, collecting taxes to fund services Hmmmm…let’s see….. Towns, etc in Orange County

23 What does a town government do?? DDDDelivers services provide by county & city govts in other areas UUUUsually includes rural and urban areas GGGGoverned by an elected board

24 What is a special district? PPPPerforms govt functions at the local level RRRRun by an elected board EEEEx: school district, fire district

25 How does a place become a “city”? CCan be established as a city by the state through the process of incorporation NNeed certain # population NNeeds a charter – city’s basic law or constitution


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