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Government - Unit 6, Chapter 24: Governing the States
Transcript of Government - Unit 6, Chapter 24: Governing the States
Kansas State Constitution
Our Constitution was enacted in 1861...hmm I wonder what event helped shape
the formation of our Constitution...
Our current Constitution was actually the fourth Constitution proposed in Kansas. It is called the Wyandotte Constitution.
Our state's Constitution talks about many of the same things the U.S. Constitution lays out. There are a bill of rights, a section that explains the duties, powers, privileges, etc. for the legislative, executive, and judicial powers of the state and much more.
Here are the different sections of the state constitution:
•Ordinance and Preamble
•Kansas Bill of Rights
• Article One: Executive
•Article Two: Legislative
•Article Three: Judicial
•Article Four: Elections
•Article Five: Suffrage
•Article Six: Education
•Article Seven: Public Institutions & Welfare
•Article Eight: Militia
•Article Nine: County & Township Organization
•Article Ten: Apportionment of the Legislature
•Article Eleven: Finance & Taxation
•Article Twelve: Corporations
•Article Thirteen: Banks
•Article Fourteen: Constitutional Amendment & Revision
•Article Fifteen: Miscellaneous
Let's focus in on one issue specifically mentioned prominently in the state's Constitution, and that is education.
for intellectual, educational, vocational and scientific improvement by
establishing and maintaining
public schools, educational institutions and related activities which may be organized and changed in such manner as may be provided by law."
Those words have led to lawsuits over the past several years by advocates for education in the State of Kansas. These people argue that the state is not adequately funding and maintaining public education.
Look at page 18 for charts on Kansas budget in 2014.
Look at page 20 for charts on Kansas budget in 2016.
Something like 90% of funding for public education comes from state budget's and most states see public education as their #1 responsibility.
Now let's look at some battles going on with education in our state...
Section 2: State Legislature
We obviously have a bicameral legislature in the state of Kansas.
We have the House of Representatives which is made up of 125 members elected from single-member districts based off of population.
We also have a State Senate composed of 40 members who are elected from single-member districts based off of population. Each Senate district contains about 60,000 people.
State Senator's terms are 4 years.
State Representative's terms are 2 years.
There are no term limits on State Congresspeople.
Leadership positions are similar to the positions at the national level. The Kansas House of Reps has a Speaker of the House, Majority Leader, and Majority Whip. There is also a Minority Leader and a Minority Whip.
In the Kansas Senate there is a President and Vice President of the Senate as well as a Majority and Minority leader.
How many Democrats do you think are in the Kansas Senate?
All of 9! Only 22.5%
How many Democrats do you think there are in the House of Reps?
40 which is 32%!
Our State Senator is Mary Jo Taylor from Stafford. She is a Republican serving in her first term as our Senator.
Our State Representative is Leonard Mastroni. He is a Republican from LaCrosse. This is his first term as our Representative.
Section 3: The Governor and State Administration
Our state's governor is Sam Brownback.
The Governor is elected by state-wide election every 4 years in "off-year" elections. These occur in between Presidential elections. So when would our next Gubernatorial election be?
Term limits: 2 terms (8 years)
The Lieutenant Governor is second in command and would take over if the Governor is impeached, resigns, dies, or accepts an appointment to another office.
The powers of the Governor within the state are similar to the powers of the President. The Governor has appointment power, budget making power, veto power, and can call special sessions of Congress.
Other leadership positions in the state of Kansas include the Secretary of State who serves as the chief record keeper and clerk and they administer the election laws of the state.
Another position is the State Treasurer who is the custodian of State funds. This person is in charge of keeping track of the state's money, make payments to meet the many agencies of government's payroll, and much more.
The State's chief lawyer who often defends the state in court cases involving the state is the Attorney General. This person also acts as the legal adviser to the State officers and agencies.
He is a 'hawk'
Voted for War in Iraq and for the War in Afghanistan
Very supportive of religion and religion in politics
Voted with the Republican party about 90% of the time when he was in Congress
In favor of 'don't-ask-don't-tell' policy
Doesn't put much emphasis on environmental protection
Does not believe in evolution
Is rated pretty low in regards to votes that would support public education
Not in favor of gay rights
In the Courtroom
Kinds of Law Applied in State Courts
Highest form of law in U.S.
Based on judicial interpretations of U.S. and State constitutions.
Consists of statutes, or laws, enacted by legislative bodies which would include U.S. Congress, State legislature, councils, county commission, and the people through initiatives or referendums.
Composed of the rules, orders, and regulations issued by federal, State, or local executive officers (President, Governor, Mayor)
Unwritten, judge-made law
Developed over the centuries from those generally accepted ideas of right and wrong.
State courts apply common law except when it is in conflict with written law.
Judges, coming upon situations similar to those found in earlier cases, applied and reapplied the rulings from those earlier cases.
Common law is built upon precedent.
This type of law is a supplement to common law.
Here is the difference...common law provides a remedy for matters AFTER they have happened...equity seeks to stop wrongs BEFORE they occur.
Example: The government finds out that a newspaper is about to leak top secret documents about the plans for a nuclear weapon. The government could (and would) ask the courts to issue an injunction to stop the paper from publishing that information.
Two other categories into which the law is commonly classified...criminal and civil law.
Brought by the State against a person accused of committing a crime.
The State is always a party in a criminal case.
Two kids of crimes in criminal law.
Felony: the greater crime, may be punished by heavy fine and/or imprisonment or even death.
Misdemeanor: the lesser offense, punishable by a small and/or a short jail term.
Relates to human conduct and disputes between private parties.
Almost always between two individuals.
Usually referred to as law suits.
No "crime" has been committed but wrongdoing can be established and money can be awarded.
Jury is a body of persons selected according to law who hear evidence and decide questions of fact in a court case.
Two kinds of juries:
Only used to determine whether the evidence against a person charged with a crime is sufficient to justify a trial.
A majority of the jurors must agree that the accused person is probably guilty before someone is indicted.
There is an alternative to using a grand jury that is becoming more common. It's called information. Information is when a formal charge is filed by the prosecutor without the action of a grand jury.
Usually 12 but sometimes 6 jurors
Usually deals with more serious crimes.
Misdemeanor cases are usually just decided in a bench trial.
In most states you need a unanimous decision by the jury but some states allow for an overwhelming majority.
Persons over 18 and under 70 years of age
Not ill, criminals, or illiterate
Don't have a "stake" in the case
In a job that they could reasonably miss for a period of time.
Section 5: The Courts and Their Judges
Justices of the Peace are on the lowest rung of the State judicial ladder. They only deal with misdemeanor cases and civil cases dealing in a few hundred dollars or less. Advantages: Decide cases swiftly.
Magistrates are the city cousins of JPs. They are popularly elected for a short time and only decide smaller cases.
Juvenile courts are for individuals under the age of 18 who are accused of committing a crime. Generally speaking, the punishment of minors is less severe.
General trial courts are where the vast majority of the more important cases are heard in the U.S. Each State is divided into a number of judicial districts, or circuits.
Appellate courts are the level between trial courts and a State's supreme court. These courts do not hold trials. They hear oral arguments from attorneys, study the written arguments the attorneys submit, and review the record of the case from the lower court.
Appellate courts focus on whether the law was interpreted and applied correctly.
A State's supreme court is the highest court in the State judicial system. They are elected by the people. They have the final say in all matters of State law (except in the RARE circumstance that the case gets appealed to the SCOTUS).