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Unit 7: State and Local Government

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Morgan Schneider

on 2 April 2013

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Transcript of Unit 7: State and Local Government

U.S. Government State and Local Government The State Legislatures 2. Includes legislative, executive, and judicial branches The State Legislatures Basic features remarkably similar at state, national level: 1. Structure set out in a constitution Kansas constitution- 1861 The State Constitutions: Each state has a written constitution Fundamental law 1. How government of that State is organized 2. Distributes power among branches of government 3. Authorizes exercise of power 4. Limits exercise of power 5. Superior to State and local law within that state 6. Subordinate to the United States Constitution "No provision in any State constitution may conflict with any provision in any form of federal law" Massachusetts- oldest written constitution, 1780 Nebraska- Unicameral, Senate State Legislative Structure Lawmaking branch of State government: Translates public will into public policy Names- Legislature, General Assembly, General Court 1. 26- Legislature- Including Kansas 2. 19- General Assembly (Tennessee, Indiana, Colorado, Ohio, etc.) 3. 2- Legislative Assembly (Oregon, North Dakota) 4. 2- General Court (Massachusetts, New Hampshire) 49 states use bicameral legislature- Senate and House (General Assembly, House of Delegates- Virginia, Maryland) Representative Elaine Bowers Size No exact figure Two basic considerations: Not too large to hamper business Not small enough to limit people's views, interests Upper house- average of 30-50 members Kansas- 40 Senators Lincoln- Kansas Senate District 35 Senator Jay Scott Emler Lower house- average of 100-150 members Kansas- 125 Representatives Kansas House District 107 Vote-getting abilities- occupation, name familiarity, race, religion, national origin, etc. Qualifications Set by State constitution Kansas Representatives- 21 years old Kansas Senators- 25 years old Reality of politics: Informal qualifications
4 states hold state election in odd-numbered years Election Vote through popular election Candidates nominated at party primaries in nearly every state Candidates then face each other in a general election Most elections- November, every even-numbered year Separate State and local issues from national politics Rate of turnover in legislative seats is fairly high Terms Either 2 or 4 years State Senates: 31 States- 4 year terms 12 States- 2 year terms 7 States- Alternate between 2 and 4 years Kansas- All seats up for reelection every 4 years State Legislatures: 44 States- 2 year terms 5 States- 4 year terms Kansas- 2 year terms Total- $26,132.40 a year Compensation Salaries very low Additional allowances provided Kansas: $88.66 per day $123 per day for expenses $7,083 expense allowance when legislature is not in session Legislative Sessions 42 States- Annual Sessions Kansas- tries to limit session to 90 days California- continuous two-year session 7 States- biennial sessions All 50 Governors can call special sessions for urgent matters Powers of the Legislature Legislative Powers Can pass any law that doesn't conflict with Constitution or federal law Tax, spend, borrow, establish courts, maintain public schools, etc. "Police Power"- State's power to protect and promote the public health, safety, morals, and welfare Vaccinations, seat belts, speed limits, school age, etc. Non-Legislative Powers Executive, Judicial, Constituent Powers The Initiative and the Referendum essentially allows voters to bypass the state legislature Direct Legislation The Initiative: Voters can propose by petition constitutional amendments in 17 states Specific number of voters must sign to propose a law 1. Direct Initiative- measure goes directly to the ballot 2. Indirect Initiative- Proposal goes first to the legislature Can pass to make law If not passed, measure goes to the voters Kansas does not have an initiative process The Referendum: Process in which a legislative measure is referred to the State's voters for final approval or rejection; allows voters to approve laws 1. Mandatory Referendum- Legislature is required to refer a measure to the voters 2. Optional Referendum- Legislature refers to the voters voluntarily; rare 3. Popular Referendum- People may demand via petition that a measure passed be referred to them for final action Kansas does not have a referendum process Generous expense account The Governor and State Administration Governor and Qualifications Governor- principal executive officer in each of the 50 states Qualifications: Vary from state to state Kansas- no formal qualifications Informal qualifications- difficult to meet Selection Governor chosen by popular vote Can serve two consecutive terms Term Kansas, 46 other states- 4 year terms Other states: President of the Senate, Secretary of State Succession Set up by State Constitution Kansas, 42 other states: Lieutenant Governor No recall in Kansas Removal Impeachment Voters in 16 states have the power to recall the governor Compensation Kansas: $110,707; 36th gubernatorial salary in the U.S. Governor’s mansion Can call out the National Guard The Governor's Executive Powers State Constitution limits firing power as well Appointment and Removal Cannot fire anyone “hired” by the voters Supervises the work of thousands of men and women who staff the State’s executive branch Supervisory Powers Effective tool for controlling State administration The Budget Governor prepares the annual or biennial budges that goes to the legislature Military Powers Commander in Chief of the State militia Parole-release of a prisoner short of the completion of the term to which he or she was originally sentenced The Governor's Legislative and Judicial Powers Message Power Power to Recommend Legislation Power to call the legislature into special sessions Special Sessions Governor may veto one or more items in a bill without rejecting the entire measure Veto Power Power to veto measure passed by the legislature 43 States, including Kansas- Line Item Veto Judicial Powers Pardon, Commute, Reprieve Parishes- Louisiana Counties, Towns, Townships and Special Districts Auditor, Superintendent of schools, coroner, surveyor, engineer, judges, etc. Local Governments Creations of the States The Counties Major unit of local government Found in all states except Connecticut and Rhode Island Boroughs- Alaska Health, zoning ordinances, supervise road programs, manage county property (courthouse, jails, hospitals, parks, etc.) Common Elements of County Governments Governing Body Lincoln- County Commissioners Popularly elected by districts Largest Power: Finance Levy taxes, appropriate funds, incur limited debts, etc. Other Powers: Common Elements of County Government Continued Elected Officials 1. Sheriff- Keeps the jail, is in charge of local law enforcement 2. County Clerk- Registers and records documents Deeds, mortgages, birth & marriage certificates, divorce decrees, etc. 3. County Treasurer- Keeps county funds, collects taxes, distributes license plates and driving licenses 4. District Attorney- prosecuting attorney, carries out criminal investigations 5. County Appraiser- sets the value of all the taxable property in the county 6. Other Officers often elected: Most ideal form of democracy Towns and Townships New England Town Major unit of local government County subdivisions formed for local government Includes all of the rural and urban areas within its boundaries Delivers the same services that cities and counties do Roots of New England town reach back to colonial beginnings Includes town meetings- assembly open to all the town’s eligible voters School, Fire, Water Townships Lincoln County- 20 Townships Special Districts Important for roads An independent unit created to perform one or more related governmental functions at the local level Many, many more Providing Important Services: What State Departments Do Education Most important, most expensive entry in every State 1/3 of overall State expenditures Local taxes, especially property taxes, provide significant proportion of funding for schools States also provide a level of financial assistance Set guidelines to maintain quality of schools Minimum qualifications for teachers, curricula, length of school year, etc.. Antipollution laws, inspection of workplaces, etc.. Public Welfare States promote the health and welfare of its citizens Ambitious public health programs Operate public hospitals Immunizations for children Programs-Medicaid, Medicare, etc.. Beyond health care: Operate prisons, penitentiaries, reformatories for juvenile offenders, etc.. Public Safety Every State maintains a police force to preserve law and order Offer centralized file for fingerprints and other information Each state has its own corrections system States responsible for road maintenance, setting speed limits, vehicle inspection, etc.. Highways Build and maintain roads and highways of the State Often partners with Federal Government for funding Other Services Setting aside public lands for conservation and recreation Regulation of businesses and their commerce within the State Protection of consumers for dangers and inconveniences Churches, private schools, museums, cemeteries, etc.. Financing State Government: Raising Revenue at the State and Local Level Limited only by restrictions imposed by the Federal Constitution Power to Tax Major power reserved to each of the States The 14th Amendment Federal Limitations Interstate and Foreign Commerce States are prohibited from taxing interstate and foreign commerce The National Government and its Agencies States forbidden to tax the Federal Government or any of its agencies or functions Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses Due Process Clause Due Process Clause requires that: Taxes be imposed fairly Not heavy enough to confiscate property Imposed only for public purposes Equal Protection Clause Equal Protection Clause: Forbids unreasonable taxing (race, religion, nationality, etc..) State Constitutional Limitations Each State’s constitution limits its own taxing power Inheritance tax- placed in individuals who have received money from someone who has passed away Types of State and Local Revenue Regressive tax- same for all people, not geared to the ability to pay The Sales Tax Placed on the sale of various commodities; paid by the purchaser Every State now levies a selective sales tax on motor fuels, alcohol, cigarettes, insurance policies Reason for usage: Easy to collect Fairly dependable revenue producer Progressive tax- the higher the income, the higher the tax The Income Tax Levied on the income of individuals and/or corporations Automobiles, air conditioners, stocks, bonds, mortgages Business Taxes, Severance Taxes, License Taxes, etc.. The Property Tax Chief source of income for local governments Levied on: Real property- land and buildings Personal property- tangible and intangible Inheritance or Estate Taxes “Death Taxes” Estate Taxes- placed on individuals who have passed away Other Taxes: Seeks to stop wrongs before they occur In The Courtroom Often lead to an award of money or a fine Kinds of Law Applied in State Courts 1. Constitutional Law
Interpretations of Federal and State Constitutions
2. Statutory Law
Law enacted by legislative bodies
State legislature, people, city councils, etc.
3.Administrative Law
Rules and regulations issued by federal, State, or local executive officers
4. Common Law
Unwritten, judge-made law that has developed over centuries from generally accepted ideas of right and wrong
Developed as judges followed precedent and abided by earlier court decisions
5. Equity
Criminal and Civil Law Criminal Law- That body of law that defines crimes and provides for their punishment
Felonies and misdemeanors
Civil law- That portion of the law relating to human conduct; relating to disputes between two parties
Expensive, cumbersome, and time-consuming The Jury System Jury- Body of persons selected according to law who hear evidence and decide questions of fact in a court case
Two Types:
Hung jury- jury cannot agree on a verdict; new jury picked or case is dropped Grand Jury: 6-23 persons, depending on state (KS-15)
Meet in secret
If there is enough evidence for a trial, the grand jury uses an indictment to accuse someone of a crime
Petit Jury: Trial Jury
Hears the evidence in a case, decided the disputed facts
Verdicts need to be an large majority
Kansas Supreme Court- 7 justices The Courts and Their Judges Organization of State Court Systems: Try misdemeanors
1. Justices of the Peace
Preside over justice courts
Popularly elected
Urban justice courts
2. Magistrate's Courts Civil, criminal, small claims, traffic, etc..
3. Municipal Courts Citywide jurisdiction, hear civil cases
Many organized into divisions
Designed to address the special needs and problems of young people
District Court in each county
7 cities: Hays, Garden City, Wichita, Chanute, Kansas City, Olathe, Topeka
4. Juvenile Courts Individuals under 18
5. General Trial Courts More important civic and criminal cases
Divided into a number of judicial districts or circuits
Kansas Trial Courts
6. Appellate Courts Courts of appeal that stand between the trial courts and the State’s supreme court
Serve to ease the burden of the high court
Hear oral arguments from attorneys and study the briefs, or written arguments, that attorneys submit from cases in the lower courts
Kansas Court of Appeals:
13 judges; Usually sit in panels of three
7. State Supreme Court
Highest court in the State’s judicial system
Reviews the decisions of lower courts in cases that are appealed to it
6 year terms- Supreme Court justices Selection of Judges Missouri Plan- used to select judges in Kansas for their top two courts
1. A panel selects three potential judges
2. Governor selects one to become a judge
3. Justice subject to a retention vote after first year in office by vote in the next general election
4. If vote is favorable, justice serves regular term
4 year terms- District and Court of Appeals
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