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The government of the U.S. State of Oklahoma , established by the Oklahoma Constitution, is a republican democracy modeled after the federal government of the United States. The state government has three branches: the executive, legislative, and judicial. Through a system of separation of powers or "checks and balances," each of these branches has some authority to act on its own, some authority to regulate the other two branches, and has some of its own authority, in turn, regulated by the other branches.
A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, often a state.
Oklahoma is a state in the South Central region of the United States, bordered by Kansas on the north, Missouri on the northeast, Arkansas on the east, Texas on the south, New Mexico on the west, and Colorado on the northwest. It is the 20th-most extensive and the 28th-most populous of the fifty United States. The state's name is derived from the Choctaw words okla and humma, meaning "red people". It is also known informally by its nickname, "The Sooner State", in reference to the non-Native settlers who staked their claims on land before the official opening date of lands in the western Oklahoma Territory or before the Indian Appropriations Act of 1889, which dramatically increased European-American settlement in the eastern Indian Territory. Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory were merged into the State of Oklahoma when it became the 46th state to enter the union on November 16, 1907. Its residents are known as Oklahomans, and its capital and largest city is Oklahoma City.
A republic is a form of government in which the country is considered a “public matter”, not the private concern or property of the rulers. The primary positions of power within a republic are not inherited, but are attained through democracy, oligarchy or autocracy. It is a form of government under which the head of state is not a hereditary monarch.
The state government is based in Oklahoma City and the head of the executive branch is the Governor of Oklahoma. The legislative branch is called the Legislature and consists of the Oklahoma Senate and the Oklahoma House of Representatives. The Oklahoma Supreme Court and the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals are the state's highest courts.
Oklahoma City, often shortened to OKC, is the capital and largest city of the U.S. state of Oklahoma. The county seat of Oklahoma County, the city ranks 27th among United States cities in population. The population grew following the 2010 Census, with the population estimated to have increased to 643,648 as of July 2017. As of 2015, the Oklahoma City metropolitan area had a population of 1,358,452, and the Oklahoma City-Shawnee Combined Statistical Area had a population of 1,459,758 residents, making it Oklahoma's largest metropolitan area.
The governor of the State of Oklahoma is the head of state for the U.S. state of Oklahoma. Under the Oklahoma Constitution, the governor is also the head of government, serving as the chief executive of the Oklahoma executive branch, of the government of Oklahoma. The governor is the ex officio Commander-in-Chief of the Oklahoma National Guard when not called into federal use. Despite being an executive branch official, the governor also holds legislative and judicial powers. The governor's responsibilities include making yearly "State of the State" addresses to the Oklahoma Legislature, submitting the annual state budget, ensuring that state laws are enforced, and that the peace is preserved. The governor's term is four years in length.
The Oklahoma Senate is the upper house of the two houses of the Legislature of Oklahoma, the other being the Oklahoma House of Representatives. The total number of senators is set at 48 by the Oklahoma Constitution.
The state government of Oklahoma is divided into an executive, a legislative and a judicial branch. The governor, the state's chief executive, has a degree of direct executive power but must share executive power with other statewide elected officers. The lieutenant governor serves as the first-in-line successor to the governorship should a vacancy occur.
The judiciary is the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in the name of the state. The judiciary can also be thought of as the mechanism for the resolution of disputes. Under the doctrine of the separation of powers, the judiciary generally does not make statutory law or enforce law, but rather interprets law and applies it to the facts of each case. However, in some countries the judiciary does make common law, setting precedent for other courts to follow. This branch of the state is often tasked with ensuring equal justice under law.
The Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma is the second-highest executive official of the state government of Oklahoma. As first in the gubernatorial line of succession, the lieutenant governor becomes the new governor of Oklahoma upon the death, resignation, or removal of the governor. The lieutenant governor also serves as the president of the Oklahoma Senate, and may cast a vote to break ties in that chamber.
The state legislature comprises the Oklahoma House of Representatives and the Oklahoma Senate. It passes statutes, votes on the budget, and controls the action of the executive through oversight and the power of impeachment.The President pro tempore of the Senate presides over the state senate and the Speaker of the House presides over the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Both officers are in line to succeed to the governorship in the event of a vacancy, behind the lieutenant governor.
The Legislature of the State of Oklahoma is the state legislative branch of the U.S. state of Oklahoma. The Oklahoma House of Representatives and Oklahoma Senate are the two houses that make up the bicameral state legislature. There are 101 state representatives, each serving a two-year term, and 48 state senators, who serve four-year terms that are staggered so only half of the Oklahoma Senate districts are eligible in each election year. Legislators are elected directly by the people from single member districts of equal population. The Oklahoma Legislature meets annually in the Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City.
The Oklahoma House of Representatives is the lower house of the legislature of the U.S. state of Oklahoma. Its members introduce and vote on bills and resolutions, provide legislative oversight for state agencies, and help to craft the state's budget. The upper house of the Oklahoma Legislature is the Oklahoma Senate.
Impeachment is the process by which a legislative body levels charges against a government official. It does not mean removal from office; it is only a statement of charges, akin to an indictment in criminal law. Once an individual is impeached, he or she must then face the possibility of conviction by a legislative vote, which judgment entails removal from office.
The independent judiciary is based on the common law system which evolved from use in the British Empire. It is divided into the two courts of last resort, one (the Supreme Court) dealing with civil law and the other (the Court of Criminal Appeals) dealing with criminal law.The Court on the Judiciary is responsible for monitoring the activities of judges, except those of the Supreme Court. The Court of Impeachment monitors the activities of all statewide elected officials, including the justices of the Supreme Court.
In law, common law is that body of law derived from judicial decisions of courts and similar tribunals. The defining characteristic of “common law” is that it arises as precedent. In cases where the parties disagree on what the law is, a common law court looks to past precedential decisions of relevant courts, and synthesizes the principles of those past cases as applicable to the current facts. If a similar dispute has been resolved in the past, the court is usually bound to follow the reasoning used in the prior decision. If, however, the court finds that the current dispute is fundamentally distinct from all previous cases, and legislative statutes are either silent or ambiguous on the question, judges have the authority and duty to resolve the issue. The court states an opinion that gives reasons for the decision, and those reasons agglomerate with past decisions as precedent to bind future judges and litigants. Common law, as the body of law made by judges, stands in contrast to and on equal footing with statutes which are adopted through the legislative process, and regulations which are promulgated by the executive branch. Stare decisis, the principle that cases should be decided according to consistent principled rules so that similar facts will yield similar results, lies at the heart of all common law systems.
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. It originated with the overseas possessions and trading posts established by England between the late 16th and early 18th centuries. At its height, it was the largest empire in history and, for over a century, was the foremost global power. By 1913, the British Empire held sway over 412 million people, 23% of the world population at the time, and by 1920, it covered 35,500,000 km2 (13,700,000 sq mi), 24% of the Earth's total land area. As a result, its political, legal, linguistic and cultural legacy is widespread. At the peak of its power, the phrase "the empire on which the sun never sets" was often used to describe the British Empire, because its expanse around the globe meant that the sun was always shining on at least one of its territories.
The Supreme Court of Oklahoma is one of the two highest judicial bodies in the U.S. state of Oklahoma and leads the judiciary of Oklahoma, the judicial branch of the government of Oklahoma.
A popular referendum approved the constitution of the Oklahoma on September 17, 1907, which came into effect upon Oklahoma's ratification of the United States Constitution on November 16, 1907. The ratification of both documents marked Oklahoma as the 46th US State.
A referendum is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is invited to vote on a particular proposal. This may result in the adoption of a new law. In some countries, it is synonymous with a plebiscite or a vote on a ballot question.
The United States Constitution is the supreme law of the United States. The Constitution, originally comprising seven articles, delineates the national frame of government. Its first three articles embody the doctrine of the separation of powers, whereby the federal government is divided into three branches: the legislative, consisting of the bicameral Congress ; the executive, consisting of the President ; and the judicial, consisting of the Supreme Court and other federal courts. Articles Four, Five and Six embody concepts of federalism, describing the rights and responsibilities of state governments, the states in relationship to the federal government, and the shared process of constitutional amendment. Article Seven establishes the procedure subsequently used by the thirteen States to ratify it. It is regarded as the oldest written and codified national constitution in force.
The constitution contains a bill of rights in itself, but its preamble mentions the principles the government of Oklahoma is to uphold. The constitution's preamble states that the state government is to:
... secure and perpetuate the blessing of liberty; to secure just and rightful government; [and] to promote our mutual welfare and happiness ...
Among these foundational principles protected by the Oklahoma bill of rights are: political power derives from the consent of the people; the people have the inherent rights to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the enjoyment of the gains of their own industry; the right to peaceful assembly; a ban on the interference with suffrage; the definition of treason; the right to trial by jury; and that marriage in the State of Oklahoma is defined as being between a man and a woman.
The legislative branch is the branch of the Oklahoma state government that creates the laws of Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Legislature, which makes up the legislative branch, consists of two chambers: the Senate and the House of Representatives. The state legislature has the power to levy and collect taxes, borrow money, and raise and maintain the militia of the state. The constitution grants the state legislature the authority to legislate on "rightful subjects" of legislation.
The Oklahoma Legislature meets for four months in regular session each year from February to May.However, under special circumstances, the governor or two-thirds of the state legislature's membership can call special sessions. The governor has a strong influence in shaping the agenda of the legislature. Legislation must be approved by a majority in both houses and signed by the governor to be enacted into law. However, should the governor veto the bill, the legislature, by a two-third vote in both houses, may over turn the governor's veto and the bill be enacted into law without the governor's signature. On appropriations bills, however, the governor has a line-item veto.
Under the Oklahoma Constitution, members of both houses enjoy the privilege of being free from arrest, except for treason, felony, and breach of the peace. This immunity applies to members during sessions and when traveling to and from sessions. The constitution also guarantees absolute freedom of debate in both houses, providing, "for any speech or debate in either House, shall not be questioned in any other place."
Members of the legislature are limited to a combined total of 12 years service in the Oklahoma Legislature, regardless of house.
The Oklahoma Senate is the upper house of the state legislature with its 48 seats divided equally among the state's 48 senatorial districts. The state senators serve a four-year staggered term, with half of the senate up for reelection every even numbered year.The presiding officer in the state senate is the lieutenant governor in their role as President of the Senate. By tradition, the lieutenant governor presides in ceremonial occasions, leaving in charge the President pro tempore of the Oklahoma Senate, who is third in line to succeed the governor in the event of his removal from office.
The state senate is required to give their advice and consent to many executive branch appointments made by the governor.
The Oklahoma House of Representatives is the lower house of the state legislature with its 101 seats divided equally among the state's 101 house districts. Each member serves for a two-year term with the entire House up for reelection every even numbered year.The presiding officer in the chamber is the Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, who is fourth in line to succeed the governor after the lieutenant governor and president pro tempore of the Oklahoma Senate.
Bills for raising revenue may only originate in the House of Representatives though the state senate may alter and amend them as the body sees fit.
The executive branch is the branch of the Oklahoma state government that executes the laws of Oklahoma. The branch, consisting of over 300 state agencies, boards, and commissions, is headed by the Governor of Oklahoma, who is assisted by eleven other statewide officials.
The governor is both head of state and head of government for Oklahoma. Under the constitution, the governor is elected to serve a four-year term. Originally, the governor was term limited to only one term in office at a time but this has since been modified to allow up to two consecutive terms.The governor presides over the executive branch, commands the militia of the state, and makes sure that the laws of the state are enforced and that the peace is preserved. The governor is the state's chief representative and spokesperson to the other states within the United States, the United States federal government, and foreign nations. The governor must sign bills passed by the state legislature in order for those bills to become law. Should the governor veto a bill, the state legislature may override his or her veto with a two-thirds vote.
In certain emergencies the governor may assume special, comprehensive powers. These powers involve greater police power and near absolute control over state, county, and local agencies and resources. During emergencies, the governor is also allowed a limited-form of rule by decree. State, county, and local officers and personnel become subject to the governor during the emergency and must obey his or her directions. With the exception of the members of the state legislature, any official who fails to obey any of his or her orders may be removed from office by the governor.
However, in normal times, the governor may not enact legislation or directly control the county and local agencies. The governor may issue executive orders (when empowered to do so by a specific provision of the Oklahoma Constitution or an act of the legislature) which are binding throughout the state. Such executive orders do not have the force of law and may only be issued when related directly to the governor's duties.
In order to be elected governor, any gubernatorial candidate is required to obtain a statewide plurality of votes cast in their election. Given the dominance of the two-party system in Oklahoma (between the Democrats and the Republicans), the plurality is often a majority as well. However, in case the event that two or more candidates have an equal number of votes, the state legislature, by joint ballot, elects one of those candidates governor.
The constitution names the governor the state's chief magistrate and vested in him the supreme executive power. As a consequence, the governor is the preeminent figure in Oklahoma politics. Though he or she shares power with many other executive officers, in the event of a vacancy anywhere in the executive branch, he or she appoints a successor. The governor appoints the heads of state departments and agencies as well as the members of most state commissioners and boards. However, these appointments do require Senate approval. Some serve at his or her pleasure while others serve fixed terms.
Kevin Stitt became governor on January 14, 2019, succeeding Mary Fallin.
The Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma is the second highest official in the Oklahoma government and the first in line to succeed the governor in the event of a vacancy. Though both the governor and lieutenant governor are elected in the same year, the two are not running mates. In the absence of the governor, the lieutenant governor assumes the powers and duties of office of governor. However, as long as the governor remains in the state and is capable of discharging his or her duties, the lieutenant governor's main role is that of the president of the Oklahoma Senate, a position of limited de jure influence.
The lieutenant governor's de facto power is based primarily upon the individual holding the office. When the governor and lieutenant governor are of the same political party, the governor often uses the lieutenant governor as a chief adviser or appointee. However, when the two are differing political parties, the lieutenant governor's influence is minimal.
Oklahoma also has nine other independent executive offices that do not owe loyalty to the governor as they are elected statewide and exercise authority outside the control of the governor. The general rule is that, while independent of the governor, the other statewide executive officers are at the disposal of the governor as he is the chief executive. This is enforced through statutory restriction on the independent offices authority to act without the governor's approval and the ability of the governor to force the independent offices to act according to his will. The greatest power of the governor over the independent executive offices is the governor's ability to determine each office's annual budget.
These executive officers have some specialized regulatory power, some executive power, and some quasi-judicial power. The governor and state legislature often consult them on matters before enacting new laws.
The independent executive offices are as follows:
With the exception of the independent constitutional executive offices, the executive branch is organized into agencies that are grouped together under cabinet positions to reduce the number of people who report directly to the governor. For example, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority are organized under the state transportation secretary.
The cabinet officers hold the title of "secretary". Agency heads are called "directors" or "commissioners". A cabinet secretary may serve concurrently as an agency director. The governor appoints, with the approval of the Oklahoma Senate, the cabinet. Each secretary advises the governor on policy changes or problems within the agencies under their supervision, represent the governor in administering their area of supervision, and coordinate information gathering for the governor or state legislature. The secretaries are not authorized to act without authorization by the governor through executive order.
The secretaries together make up the Oklahoma State Cabinet, which was created in 1986 under the Executive Branch Reform Act of 1986 to "improve the effectiveness, efficiency and accountability of state government."
Within 45 days of assuming office, the governor must organize his or her cabinet. State law requires only the creation of a secretary for the state department of veteran affairs and for the information technology department. Within those first 45 days, the governor may create other secretary positions. The governor must create at least 10 positions, but no more than 16.
The Secretary of State of Oklahoma and the Adjutant General of Oklahoma are the only ex officio members of the Oklahoma State Cabinet. The Secretary of State does not head a department as the other secretaries do, but the Office of the Secretary of State instead. The Adjutant General is second-in-command of Oklahoma National Guard, under the governor, and serves as the chief military adviser to the governor and the head of the Military Department of Oklahoma as the Secretary of the Military.
The judicial system of Oklahoma is the branch of the Oklahoma state government that interprets the state's laws and constitution. Headed by the Supreme Court, the judiciary consists of two courts of last resort, courts of general jurisdiction, and courts of limited jurisdiction. Also, the Oklahoma judiciary contains two independent courts. The split court of last resort system (with the Oklahoma Supreme Court handling civil matters and the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals handing criminal matters) exists only in Oklahoma and neighboring Texas.
Judges and justices requiring appointment are appointed by the governor. Candidates must first go through a nominating process through the Oklahoma Judicial Nominating Commission, which selects three candidates to submit to the governor for a single selection to the office.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court consists of a chief justice, a vice-chief justice, and seven associate justices who are appointed by the governor from a list of three judges submitted by the Judicial Nomination Commission. Justices are put on the ballot during the next general election for the electorate to retain that justice or not. Justices serve six years terms and then are put up for another retention election.Justices serve until they resign, fail to be retained in office, are removed from office by the Court on the Judiciary, or are impeached by the legislative branch. The Supreme Court's decisions are binding on lower state courts.
The court has original jurisdiction and general superintendent control over inferior courts in the judiciary and agencies, commissions and boards exercising power under the constitution.The court has appellate jurisdiction co-extensive with that of the state's borders on cases "at law and in equity" except criminal cases, in which the Court of Criminal Appeals has exclusive appellate jurisdiction. If in any event there is any conflict in determining which court has jurisdiction, the state supreme court is granted the power to determine which court has jurisdiction, with no appeal from the court's determination.
The Supreme Court is headquartered in the Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and hears oral arguments each year.
The Supreme Court supervises the lower courts through the Administrative Office of the Courts, and also supervises Oklahoma's legal profession through the Oklahoma Bar Association. Lawyer admissions and disbarment are done through recommendations of the association, which are then routinely ratified by the state supreme court. The association has approximately 11,000 active attorneys in Oklahoma and a total membership of more than 15,000.
Five of the nine justices are required to affair, modify, or overturn any ruling of any lower court. Once the court has reached a decision, one justice is selected to write the court's opinion. Once published, the opinion becomes the controlling factor in the state's law surrounding the issue(s) it addresses. This is known as stare decisis .
The justices select from among their members a chief justice and vice chief justice to serve two-year term. The Chief Justice of Oklahoma is responsible for the administration of the courts in the Oklahoma Judiciary and establishes rules for the courts to follow. The chief justice also oversees practicing attorneys in the state.
The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals consists of a presiding judge and four judges who are appointed by the governor from a list of three judges submitted by the Judicial Nomination Commission. Justices are also ratified by the electorate at the next general election following their appointment and at the end of each six-year term. Justices serve until they resign or fail to be retained in office. The Supreme Court's decisions are binding on lower state courts.
Unlike most states, Oklahoma has two courts of last resort. The Supreme Court determines issues of a civil nature, and the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals decides criminal matters. Unlike the Supreme Court, the Court of Criminal Appeal has mandatory review jurisdiction whenever a sentence from a lower court involved the death sentence.
Court of Appeal justices are selected, confirmed, and ratified in the same manner as the justices of the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
The state created the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals because the Oklahoma Supreme Court had neither the time nor resources to hear every case brought before it. When a case is brought before the state supreme court, the justices can choose to send the case to one of the four division of the Court of Civil Appeals, two located in Tulsa and two in Oklahoma City. Each division of the court has three judges, appointed for life, but must stand for election every six years to retain their positions.
Two of the three judges may choose to reaffirm, modify, or overturn any ruling of any lower court. However, if the Oklahoma Supreme Court disapproves of the court's ruling, it may review the decision and change it as the court deems necessary.
Each of Oklahoma's 77 counties has its own district court. The district courts have general jurisdiction over civil and criminal matters, with the exception of certain limited areas like workers' compensation where original jurisdiction is reserved by statute to other courts. Each district court is presided over by either a single or multiple district judges with at least one associate district judge to administer justice in each county. The judges are elected, in a nonpartisan manner, to serve a four-year term. In the event of a vacancy in any of the district courts, the governor appoints a judge to serve until the next elections. In the event of a heavy caseload in the district, a special judge may be appointed to assist the district judge.
The 77 district courts are divided into 27 districts, with each district having at least one district judge to over the associate district judges. Above the 27 district are nine judicial administrative districts, involving several districts, to assure an organized system. From among the district judges of the judicial administrative districts, one is selected to serve as the presiding judge, who is responsible for the administrative matters of their district. The presiding judge answers to the Supreme Court.
Civil appeals are heard by the Oklahoma Supreme Court and criminal appeals are heard by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals.
District judges must live in the district in which they are seeking election. Associate judges must have been a practicing lawyer or judge for the past two years. There are a total of about 71 district judges, 77 associate district judges, and 78 special district judges.
The Workers' Compensation Court is a special court of ten judges that hears worker's compensation claims. The judges are selected by the governor to serve a six-year term. Claims submitted are heard by a single judge in either Tulsa or Oklahoma City. If a party disapproves of the judge's ruling, they may appeal to a three judge panel called the Court En Banc. Appeals for the Court En Banc are heard by the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
The Court on Tax Review is a special court in the Oklahoma judiciary charged with hearing disputes involving illegal taxes levied by county and city governments. Tax review cases are sent to the Chief Justice of Oklahoma, who then sends the claim to the presiding judge of the administration district from which the claim originated. The presiding judge then appoints three judges to serve as the Court on Tax Review. Appeals from the court are heard by the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
Though part of Oklahoma's court system, there are two courts that operate without the oversight of the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
The Oklahoma Court on the Judiciary, one of the two independent courts, is responsible for removing judges from their position if they have committed illegal acts. One of two such courts in the United States, the court ensures that other courts best administer justice.
The Oklahoma Court on the Judiciary consists of a nine-member trial division and a five-member appellate division. The court's jurisdiction may be called into force by the governor, attorney general, Oklahoma Supreme Court, the Oklahoma Bar Association, or by the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Also, private citizens can file a formal complaint against a judge to be heard by the Oklahoma Council on Judicial Complaints. It the complaint is approved, the case is heard by the trial division of the court.
Cases brought before the court are heard by the trial division. Any appeals from the trial division are heard by the appellate division. There are no appeals from the appellate division's decisions, and not even the Oklahoma Supreme Court may change its rulings.
The Oklahoma Senate serves as the Court of Impeachment, the second independent court in the Oklahoma judiciary. Impeachment charges are brought by the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and they are heard by the state senate, with the Chief Justice of Oklahoma presiding, unless the chief justice or any member of the Oklahoma Supreme Court is charged, in which case the state senate shall select one of its own members to preside.
Impeachment charges may only be brought against the governor and other statewide officials (including justices) for willful neglect of duty, corruption in office, habitual drunkenness, incompetency, or any offense involving moral turpitude committed while in office. If impeached, officials are immediately suspended in discharging their duties. Should the impeachment fails, the officer in question returns to their duties. However, if the impeachment is successful and the defendant found guilty, the person is removed from office.
The Oklahoma Judicial Nominating Commission is a body which selects potential justices and judges for gubernatorial appointments for judicial positions on Oklahoma's appellate courts. In the event of a vacancy, for whatever reason, within the Oklahoma Supreme Court or appellate courts, the commission screens a list of applicants that desire that job. The commission selects three qualified nominees and presents the names to the governor, who may appoint one of the nominees. If the governor fails to appoint a nominee to the position within sixty days, the Chief Justice of Oklahoma may make the selection.
The county is the primary administrative division of Oklahoma. They are bodies politic and corporate. There are seventy-seven counties in the state. Counties contain a number of towns and cities as well as unincorporated land in the state. Every county has a county seat, often a populous or centrally located city or town, where the county government is headquartered.
In traditional Midwest fashion, counties in Oklahoma possess a moderate scope of power. As extensions of the state government, counties are primarily administrative bodies which possess executive and limited judicial powers, but not legislative powers. Their primary responsibilities are related to managing, planning and governing unincorporated land within their borders. The counties keep records of deaths, births, marriages, divorces, property ownership, and court activities within the county. The counties must also maintain a court system, law enforcement, road and bridge construction, and voter registration.
As extensions of the state government, the counties are responsible for six major services:
Each county government is composed of eight elected officials and a district attorney. County officials serve four-year terms beginning on the first Monday in January following their election.
Each county is headed by a Board of County Commissioners consisting of three elected county commissioners. The board serves as the quasi-head of government, with the chair of board as the quasi-head of state, of the county. Each county is divided into three districts drawn based on equal population. From each of the three districts, a county commissioner is elected independently from the other two commissioners. The three commissioners serve collegiately, with each having equal voting powers and a yearly rotating chairmanship.
The board supervises county administration, manages property owned by the county, prepares the county budget (unless the county has adopted the County Budget Board), and advertises bids for major county purchases and contracts. The commission is also empowered to audit and approve claims against the county, propose county bonds, and audit the accounts of all other county offices. The board's other duties include the maintenance of traffic control devices, the power to approve zoning applications, and the administration of federal funds provided to the county.
Only the board may purchase equipment, machinery, supplies or materials of any kind for the county and all contracts and agreements relating to the leasing or rental of county equipment or otherwise relating to the business of the county are negotiated by the commission. It is in the name of the county commission that the county sues and is sued.
The board meets on or before the first Monday of each month and may stay in session for as long as the commission determines. However, the board must adjourn by the last business day of each month. Should the board adjourn before the last business day of a month, the county clerk may call the board into special session. Meetings of the board are open to the public.
The County Sheriff is the chief law enforcement officer in the county and peace officer. The sheriff must be at least 25 years old, have been a resident of Oklahoma for two years, a qualified elector in the county, and possess at least a high school diploma. In counties with over 80,000 citizens, the sheriff must be a certified peace officer at election. However, in counties with under 80,000 citizens, the sheriff is given up to 12 months after the election to become certified.
When it comes to the responsibilities of the sheriff, Oklahoma's outlaw history has bestowed the sheriff with what is seen as full services, that is, providing tradition law-enforcement functions, including countywide patrol and investigations irrespective of municipal boundaries. As the chief peace officer, the sheriff is responsible for ensuring the peace is preserved, riots are suppressed, and that unlawful assemblies and insurrections are controlled. The sheriff is vested with the power to form a posse of able-bodied men to assist him in controlling riots and lawlessness. The sheriff also serves as the executor of court orders and other lawful authorities within the county. To ensure justice is administered, the sheriff is empowered to apprehend any person charged with a felony or breach of the peace and may attend any court within the county.
In order to prevent the sheriff from abusing their position, the sheriff is required to account for funds collected by the office and to make a monthly report to the county commissioners.
While not a county official since 1967, the District Attorney replaced the County Attorney as the chief legal officer of the county. There are 27 judicial districts with one District Attorney serving all counties located within their district. The main purpose of the office is the prosecution of all criminal actions that occur in counties in their district as well as prosecuting and defending all civil action in which any county in their district is concerned. To perform their duties, the district attorneys are empowered to appoint assistant district attorneys, investigators, and clerks so that each county in their districts has at least one assistant district attorney. As members of the state executive branch, officers and offices under the district attorney are paid by the state and not the county.
Alongside the three county commissioners, the county sheriff, and the district Attorney, are four other county offices:
Within Oklahoma there are two types of municipal governments: cities and towns. To be a city, a community must have a population of at least 1,000.Both are municipal corporations in that they can both sue and be sued, may own and sell property, create debt, and may levy and collect taxes. They are the most basic level of government in Oklahoma and are also the most accessible.
The term of office of municipal officials is four years with elections held on the first Tuesday of April of each odd-numbered year.
Any area in Oklahoma, regardless of population, may incorporate. The county commission supervises incorporations in their county. Persons wishing to incorporate must first provide an accurate survey of the area to be incorporated. Next, within thirty days of applying for incorporation, a census must be taken to show the number of people living in the area to be incorporated. The petition to incorporate must include the signature of at least one-third of those people. The commission must then hold a hearing to determine the accuracy of the petition, survey, and census. If the commission is satisfied that all requirements have been meet, it must issue a writ of election for an election to occur within ten days. If a majority of the qualified voters of the area to be incorporated approve of the incorporation, the community is declared incorporated and assumes the appropriate municipal government.
In Oklahoma, a town governed by a board of trustees is the simplest government type in Oklahoma.The board is composed of three or five members, each representing a ward, and elected at large by the town. The board exercises both executive and legislative functions. The trustees elect from among themselves a president of the board, who presides over the board and serves as mayor of the town. The mayor is the head of state for the town and, depending on his or her duties, may serve as the head of government of the town. The judicial branch is known as municipal court, which is a court of no-record in Oklahoma's judicial system.
The town board of trustees appoints and removes town officers and employees as provided by law or ordinance, maintains the public peace and order, enacts municipal legislation and punishment for its violation, raises revenue, makes appropriations, manages the fiscal affairs of the town, inspects the books and accounts maintained by the town treasurer, investigates municipal affairs, creates and abolishes divisions of the town government, and grants pardons for violation of municipal ordinances.
A major responsibility of a town is the construction and maintenance of streets, parks, and sewers for the town to use as well as maintaining the public peace. Within each town are three major officials, either elected by the town as a whole or appointed by the board:
When a town's population reaches one thousand, the municipal incorporation remains classified as a town unless a majority of the qualified voters of the community approve of a change to city government.
In Oklahoma, a city is a highly autonomous incorporated area either contained within a county or spanning multiple counties. According to the state constitution, any community with a population of more than 2,000 can become a city.State law further stipulates that a city must have at least 1,000 inhabitants. City governments provide the same services as towns but are organized in a different manner under one of four possible government structures.
In an aldermanic or weak mayor-council structure, the city is governed by an elected at-large mayor and two councilmembers from each ward, forming the city council.The mayor serves as the presiding officer of the council and the head of state and head of government of the city, but does not vote on the council, unless to break a tie vote. The council also elects a council president that can act in the mayor's absence. As the chief executive officer of the city government, the mayor appoints city officers with the council's oversight and can remove, suspend and directly oversee city officers and employees. He or she prepares an annual budget and submits it to the council, advises the council on the city's finances and future needs, makes recommendations, enforces city ordinances, and maintains the public peace. The council is responsible for enacting municipal legislation, revenue and spending decisions, and creating or abolishing city divisions.
The governing body of a council-manager city is a city council composed of one councilmember from each ward of the city and one at-large councilmember.The council elects from among its members a mayor to preside over meetings and a vice-mayor to preside in his absence. Though recognized as head of state of the city, the mayor has no regular administrative duties except for signing conveyances and other written obligations of the city as the council requires. If a vacancy occurs in the office of mayor, the vice-mayor becomes the mayor for the remainder of the unexpired term. Aside from passing ordinances and raising city revenue, the council is responsible for appointing a city manager to serve as the head of government for the city. The city manager is the chief executive officer of the administrative branch of the city government. He is responsible to the council for executing the laws and administering the government of the city. Most city officials are appointed and removed by the city manager without prior council approval. The city manager also supervises and controls administrative departments, prepares an annual budget for the council to approve, and is to keep the council advised of the financial condition and future needs of the city.
The strong mayor-council city is the third form of city government provided for in Oklahoma law.The governing body of a strong mayor city consists of the mayor, who is elected at large, and one councilmember from each ward of the city. The mayor serves as an ex officio councilmember at large and presides over meetings of the council. As the councilmember at large, the mayor has the powers, rights, privileges, duties and responsibilities of any other councilmember, including the right to vote on questions. The mayor serves as both head of state and head of government for the city as the city's chief executive officer. He is responsible to the people of the city for executing the laws and for administering the government of the city. In the event of martial law, the Governor of Oklahoma must recognize the mayor as head of the city. The mayor appoints and removes most city officials without prior council approval, supervises and controls city departments, prepares the annual budget for council approval, keeps the council advised of the financial condition and future needs of the city, and may grant pardons for violations of city ordinances upon the recommendation of the municipal judge.
A unique feature of a strong-mayor city is the presence of a city personnel board to ensure that a merit system is employed by the city. The personnel board consists of three members elected by the council for staggered six-year terms. The board elects from among its members a chair and vice-chair. The personnel board also elects a secretary who need not be a member of the board.
In strong-mayor form, city employees that are not elected, appointed, or confirmed by the council, members and secretaries of boards, commissions and other plural authorities, and personnel who serve without compensation are part of the classified service. Neither the mayor nor any other authority may appoint or promote any person in the classified service of the city for any political reason but only for merit and fitness. Any qualified elector of the city may bring an allegation of a violation of the merit system before the personnel board for consideration and determination. Following a public hearing on the issues, if the board finds to its satisfaction that the appointment or promotion was made in violation of the merit system, it then vetoes the appointment or promotion.
No officer or employee in the classified service may:
... actively influence, or actively attempt to influence, or work actively for, the nomination, election or defeat of any candidate for mayor or councilmember.
Officers and employees are not prohibited from the ordinary exercise of their right as a citizen to express his opinions and to vote. An officer or employee who violates the merit system may be removed from office or position either by the authority normally having power to remove him, or, after adequate opportunity for a public hearing, by the personnel board. An officer or employee who violates this section of the merit system is forbidden to hold any office or position in the city government for four years.
Whenever a city officer or employee is laid off, suspended, demoted or removed from office, that officer or employee may appeal the action to personnel board. The appeal must be in writing, and must be filed with the secretary or chair of the personnel board within ten days after the effective date of the layoff, suspension, demotion or removal. The personnel board must then hold a public hearing on the appeal. The personnel board must submit a report of its findings and recommendations to the mayor. The mayor then makes the final decision regarding the appellant's layoff, suspension, demotion or removal. However, if the personnel board finds to its satisfaction that the layoff, suspension, demotion, or removal was made for a political reason, it shall veto the layoff, suspension, demotion or removal.
Home Rule allows a city with a population of over 2,000 people to establish its own form of government under a City Charter.
Regardless of the city's form of government, most include the following officials, either elected or appointed:
The government of California is the governmental structure of the state of California as established by the California Constitution. It is composed of three branches: the executive, consisting of the Governor of California and the other constitutionally elected and appointed officers and offices; the legislative, consisting of the California State Legislature, which includes the Assembly and the Senate; and the judicial, consisting of the Supreme Court of California and lower courts. There is also local government, consisting of counties, cities, special districts, and school districts, as well as government entities and offices that operate independently on a constitutional, statutory, or common law basis. The state also allows direct participation of the electorate by initiative, referendum, recall and ratification.
The government of the U.S. state of Ohio consists of the executive, judicial, and legislative branches. Its basic structure is set forth in the Constitution and law of Ohio.
The Constitution of the State of Oklahoma is the governing document of the U.S. State of Oklahoma. Adopted in 1907, Oklahoma ratified the United States Constitution on November 16, 1907, as the 46th U.S. state. At its ratification, the Oklahoma Constitution was the most lengthy governing document of any government in the U.S. All U.S. state constitutions are subject to federal judicial review; any provision can be nullified if it conflicts with the U.S. Constitution.
The Attorney General of Oklahoma is the State Attorney General for the state of Oklahoma. The attorney general serves as the chief legal and law enforcement officer of the State of Oklahoma. As head of the Office of the Oklahoma Attorney General, he or she is responsible for providing legal advice to the other departments and agencies of the executive branch, legislative branch and judicial branch of the state government. The attorney general is also responsible for the prosecution of offenses to Oklahoma law and advocate for the basic legal rights of Oklahoma residents.
The Oklahoma Court on the Judiciary is one of the two independent courts in the Oklahoma judiciary and has exclusive jurisdiction in adjudicating discipline and hearing cases involving the removal of a judge from office, excluding the Oklahoma Supreme Court, exercising judicial power under the Oklahoma Constitution.
The government of Texas operates under the Constitution of Texas and consists of a unitary democratic state government operating under a presidential system that uses the Dillon Rule, as well as governments at the county and municipal levels.
The Oklahoma Court System is the judicial system for the U.S. State of Oklahoma. Based in Oklahoma City, the court system is a unified state court system that functions under the Chief Justice of Oklahoma who is its administrator-in-chief.
The government of the U.S. state of Oregon, as prescribed by the Oregon Constitution, is composed of three government branches: the executive, the legislative, and the judicial. These branches operate in a manner similar to that of the federal government of the United States.
The government of the State of New Jersey is separated into three distinct branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. The powers of the state are vested by the Constitution of New Jersey, enacted in 1947, in a bicameral state legislature, the Governor, and the state courts, headed the New Jersey Supreme Court. The powers and duties of these branches are further defined by acts of the state legislature, including the creation of executive departments and courts inferior to the Supreme Court. Like most states, the state allows the incorporation of county, and other local municipal government.
The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals is one of the two highest judicial bodies in the U.S. state of Oklahoma and is part of the Oklahoma Court System, the judicial branch of the Oklahoma state government.
The Government of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is the governmental structure of the state of Pennsylvania as established by the Pennsylvania Constitution. It is composed of three branches: executive, legislative and judicial. The capital of the Commonwealth is Harrisburg.
The government of Virginia combines the three branches of authority in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The current Governor of Virginia is Ralph Northam. The State Capitol building in Richmond was designed by Thomas Jefferson, and the cornerstone was laid by Governor Patrick Henry in 1785. Virginia currently functions under the 1971 Constitution of Virginia. It is the Commonwealth's seventh constitution. Under the Constitution, the government is composed of three branches, the legislative, the executive and the judicial.
The government of the U.S. state of Kansas, established by the Kansas Constitution, is a republican democracy modeled after the Federal Government of the United States. The state government has three branches: the executive, the legislative, and the judicial. Through a system of separation of powers, or "checks and balances," each of these branches has some authority to act on its own, and also some authority to regulate the other two branches, so that all three branches can limit and balance the others' authority.
The Government of West Virginia is modeled after the Government of the United States, with three branches: the executive, consisting of the Governor of West Virginia and the other elected constitutional officers; the legislative, consisting of the West Virginia Legislature which includes the Senate and the House of Delegates; and the judicial, consisting of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals and lower courts.
The Judiciary of New York is the judicial branch of the Government of New York, comprising all the courts of the State of New York
The Emergency Interim Executive and Judicial Succession Act is an Oklahoma state law governing emergency succession to the all offices of the state and local governments, excluding the members of the Oklahoma Legislature, which are governed by the Oklahoma Emergency Management Interim Legislative Succession Act.
The form of Massachusetts government is provided by the Constitution of the Commonwealth. The legislative power is exercised by the bicameral General Court, composed of the Senate and House of Representatives. The executive power generally is exercised by the Governor, along with other independently elected officers, the Attorney General, Secretary of the Commonwealth, and Auditor. The judicial power is reposed in the Supreme Judicial Court, which superintends the entire system of courts. Cities and towns also act through local governmental bodies that possess only the authority granted to them by the Commonwealth over local issues, including limited home rule authority. Most county governments were abolished in the 1990s and 2000s, although a handful remain.
South Carolina government and politics covers the three different branches of government, as well as the state constitution, law enforcement agencies, federal representation, state finances, and state taxes.
The government of the State of Washington is the governmental structure of the State of Washington as established by the Constitution of the State of Washington. The executive is composed of the Governor, several other statewide elected officials and the Governor's cabinet. The Washington State Legislature consists of the House of Representatives and State Senate. The judiciary is composed of the Washington Supreme Court and lower courts. There is also local government, consisting of counties, municipalities and special districts.
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