State governments of the United States

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State governments of the United States are institutional units in the United States exercising some of the functions of government at a level below that of the federal government. Each state's government holds legislative, executive, and judicial authority over [1] a defined geographic territory. The United States comprises 50 states: 13 that were already part of the United States at the time the present Constitution took effect in 1789, plus 37 that have been admitted since by Congress as authorized under Article IV, Section 3 of the Constitution. [2]

Administrative division A territorial entity for administration purposes

An administrative division, unit, entity, area or region, also referred to as a subnational entity, constituent unit, or country subdivision, is a portion of a country or other region delineated for the purpose of administration. Administrative divisions are granted a certain degree of autonomy and are usually required to manage themselves through their own local governments. Countries are divided up into these smaller units to make managing their land and the affairs of their people easier. A country may be divided into provinces, states, counties, cantons or other sub-units, which, in turn, may be divided in whole or in part into municipalities, counties or others.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or simply America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Most of the country is located contiguously in North America between Canada and Mexico.

A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, often a state.

Contents

While each state government within the United States holds legal and administrative jurisdiction within its bounds, [3] they are not sovereign in the Westphalian sense in international law which says that each State has sovereignty over its territory and domestic affairs, to the exclusion of all external powers, on the principle of non-interference in another State's domestic affairs, and that each State (no matter how large or small) is equal in international law. [4] Additionally, the member states of the United States do not possess international legal sovereignty, meaning that they are not recognized by other sovereign States such as, for example, France, Germany or the United Kingdom, [4] nor do they possess full interdependence sovereignty (a term popularized by international relations professor Stephen D. Krasner), [5] meaning that they cannot control movement of persons across state borders. [4] The idea of "dual sovereignty" or "separate sovereigns" is derived from the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, which states that "the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." [3] Structured in accordance with state law (including state constitutions and state statutes), state governments share the same structural model as the federal system, with three branches of government executive, legislative, and judicial.

Westphalian sovereignty, or state sovereignty, is a principle in international law that each state has exclusive sovereignty over its territory. The principle underlies the modern international system of sovereign states and is enshrined in the United Nations Charter, which states that "nothing should authorise intervention in matters essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state." According to the idea, every state, no matter how large or small, has an equal right to sovereignty. Political scientists have traced the concept to the Peace of Westphalia (1648), which ended the Thirty Years' War. The principle of non-interference was further developed in the 18th century. The Westphalian system reached its peak in the 19th and 20th centuries, but it has faced recent challenges from advocates of humanitarian intervention.

International law Regulations governing international relations

International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally accepted in relations between nations. It establishes normative guidelines and a common conceptual framework to guide states across a broad range of domains, including war, diplomacy, trade, and human rights. International law thus provides a means for states to practice more stable, consistent, and organized international relations.

France Republic in Europe with several non-European regions

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.02 million. France is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

The governments of the 13 states that formed the original Union under the Constitution trace their roots back to the colonial governments of the Thirteen Colonies. Most of the states admitted to the Union after the original 13 have been formed from organized territories established and governed by Congress in accord with its plenary power under Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2 of the Constitution. [2] Six subsequent states were never an organized territory of the federal government, or part of one, before being admitted to the Union. Three were set off from an already existing state: Kentucky (1792, from Virginia), [6] [7] [8] Maine (1820, from Massachusetts), [6] [7] [8] and West Virginia (1863, from Virginia). [7] [8] [9] Two were sovereign states at the time of their admission: Texas (1845, previously the Republic of Texas), [6] [7] [10] and Vermont (1791, previously the De facto but unrecognized Vermont Republic). [6] [7] [11] One was established from unorganized territory: California (1850, from land ceded to the United States by Mexico in 1848 under the terms of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo). [6] [7] [12]

The governments of the Thirteen Colonies of British America developed in the 17th and 18th centuries under the influence of the British constitution. After the Thirteen Colonies had become the United States, the experience under colonial rule would inform and shape the new state constitutions and, ultimately, the United States Constitution.

Territories of the United States Political division that is directly overseen by the United States federal government

Territories of the United States are sub-national administrative divisions overseen by the United States government. The various U.S. territories differ from the U.S. states and Native American tribes in that they are not sovereign entities. They are classified by incorporation and whether they have an "organized" government through an organic act passed by Congress. All U.S. territories are part of the United States, but the unincorporated territories are not considered to be integral parts of the United States, and the U.S. constitution applies only partially in those territories.

A plenary power or plenary authority is a complete and absolute power to take action on a particular issue, with no limitations. It is derived from the Latin term plenus ("full").

Legislatures

The legislative branch of the U.S. states consists of state legislatures. Every state except for Nebraska has a bicameral legislature, meaning it comprises two chambers.

State legislature (United States) legislature of a U.S. state

A state legislature in the United States is the legislative body of any of the 50 U.S. states. The formal name varies from state to state. In 25 states, the legislature is simply called the Legislature, or the State Legislature, while in 19 states, the legislature is called the General Assembly. In Massachusetts and New Hampshire, the legislature is called the General Court, while North Dakota and Oregon designate the legislature the Legislative Assembly.

Nebraska State in the United States

Nebraska is a state that lies in both the Great Plains and the Midwestern United States. It is bordered by South Dakota to the north; Iowa to the east and Missouri to the southeast, both across the Missouri River; Kansas to the south; Colorado to the southwest; and Wyoming to the west. It is the only triply landlocked U.S. state.

A bicameral legislature has legislators in two separate assemblies, chambers, or houses. Bicameralism is distinguished from unicameralism, in which all members deliberate and vote as a single group, and from some legislatures that have three or more separate assemblies, chambers, or houses. As of 2015, fewer than half the world's national legislatures are bicameral.

The unicameral Nebraska Legislature is commonly called the "Senate", and its members are officially called "Senators".

In government, unicameralism is the practice of having one legislative or parliamentary chamber. Thus, a unicameral parliament or unicameral legislature is a legislature which consists of one chamber or house.

Nebraska Legislature Unicameral legislative body in Nebraska

The Nebraska Legislature is the supreme legislative body of the state of Nebraska. Its members are called "senators." The legislature is officially unicameral and nonpartisan, making Nebraska unique among U.S. states; no other state has either a unicameral or a nonpartisan legislative body. With 49 members, it is also the smallest legislature of any U.S. state.

In the majority of states (26), the state legislature is simply called "Legislature". Another 19 states call their legislature "General Assembly". Two states (Oregon and North Dakota) use the term "Legislative Assembly", while another two (Massachusetts and New Hampshire) use the term "General Court".

Oregon state of the United States of America

Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region on the West Coast of the United States. The Columbia River delineates much of Oregon's northern boundary with Washington, while the Snake River delineates much of its eastern boundary with Idaho. The parallel 42° north delineates the southern boundary with California and Nevada.

North Dakota State in the United States

North Dakota is a U.S. state in the midwestern and northern regions of the United States. It is the nineteenth largest in area, the fourth smallest by population, and the fourth most sparsely populated of the 50 states. North Dakota was admitted to the Union on November 2, 1889, along with its neighboring state, South Dakota. Its capital is Bismarck, and its largest city is Fargo.

Massachusetts State in the northeastern United States

Massachusetts, officially known as the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It borders on the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island to the south, New Hampshire and Vermont to the north, and New York to the west. The state is named after the Massachusett tribe, which once inhabited the east side of the area, and is one of the original thirteen states. The capital of Massachusetts is Boston, which is also the most populous city in New England. Over 80% of the population of Massachusetts lives in the Greater Boston metropolitan area, a region influential upon American history, academia, and industry. Originally dependent on agriculture, fishing and trade, Massachusetts was transformed into a manufacturing center during the Industrial Revolution. During the 20th century, Massachusetts's economy shifted from manufacturing to services. Modern Massachusetts is a global leader in biotechnology, engineering, higher education, finance, and maritime trade.

Upper Houses

In the 49 bicameral legislatures, the upper house is called the "Senate".

Until 1964, state senators were generally elected from districts that were not necessarily equal in population. In some cases state senate districts were based partly on county lines; in the vast majority of states the senate districts provided proportionately greater representation to rural areas. However, in the 1964 decision Reynolds v. Sims , the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that, unlike the United States Senate, state senates must be elected from districts of approximately equal population.

Lower Houses

In 40 of the 49 bicameral state legislatures, the lower house is called the "House of Representatives". The name "House of Delegates" is used in Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. California and Wisconsin call their lower house the "State Assembly", while Nevada and New York simply call the lower house the "Assembly". New Jersey calls its lower house the "General Assembly".

Executive

The executive branch of every state is headed by an elected Governor. Most states have a plural executive, in which several key members of the executive branch are directly elected by the people and serve alongside the governor. These include the offices of lieutenant governor (often on a joint ticket with the governor) and attorney general, secretary of state, auditors (or comptrollers or controllers), treasurer, commissioner of agriculture, commissioner (or superintendent) of education, and commissioner of insurance. [ citation needed ]

Each state government is free to organize its executive departments and agencies in any way it likes. This has resulted in substantial diversity among the states with regard to every aspect of how their governments are organized.

Most state governments traditionally use the department as the standard highest-level component of the executive branch, in that the secretary of a department is normally considered to be a member of the governor's cabinet and serves as the main interface between the governor and all agencies in his or her assigned portfolio. A department in turn usually consists of several divisions, offices, and/or agencies. A state government may also include various boards, commissions, councils, corporations, offices, or authorities, which may either be subordinate to an existing department or division, or independent altogether.

Judiciary

The judicial branch in most states has a court of last resort usually called a supreme court that hears appeals from lower state courts. New York's highest court is called the Court of Appeals, while its trial court is known as the Supreme Court. Maryland also calls its highest court the Court of Appeals. Texas and Oklahoma each separate courts of last resort for civil and criminal appeals. Each state's court of last resort has the last word on issues of state law and can be overruled only on issues of federal law by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The structure of courts and the methods of selecting judges is determined by each state's constitution or legislature. Most states have at least one trial-level court and an intermediate appeals court from which only some cases are appealed to the highest court.

Common government components

Although the exact position of each component may vary, there are certain components common to most state governments:

Education

Education is one of the largest areas of spending by state governments. [13] This includes K–12 education (primary and secondary schools) as well as state university systems. [13]

Health care

Health care is one of the largest areas of spending by state governments. [13] This includes spending on Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program. [13]

State Government debt to Gross Domestic Product

State debt to GDP (2017) State debt to GDP.jpg
State debt to GDP (2017)

See also

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References

  1. "Glossary of Statistical Terms: State Government". Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Retrieved February 26, 2017.
  2. 1 2 "Constitution of the United States, Article IV, Section 3, Paragraph 1". Legal Information Institute, Cornell University Law School. Retrieved 17 October 2015.
  3. 1 2 "Constitution of the United States, Amendment X". Legal Information Institute, Cornell University Law School. Retrieved 17 October 2015. The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
  4. 1 2 3 Krasner, Professor Stephen D. (2001). Problematic Sovereignty: Contested Rules and Political Possibilities. pp. 6–12. ISBN   9780231121798.
  5. Axtmann, Roland (2007). Democracy: Problems and Perspectives. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. p. 136. ISBN   9780748620104 . Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 Stein, Mark (2008). How the States Got Their Shapes. New York: HarperCollins. pp. xvi, 334. ISBN   9780061431395.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Official Name and Status History of the several States and U.S. Territories". TheGreenPapers.com.
  8. 1 2 3 Michael P. Riccards, "Lincoln and the Political Question: The Creation of the State of West Virginia" Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. 27, 1997 online edition
  9. "A State of Convenience: The Creation of West Virginia, Chapter Twelve, Reorganized Government of Virginia Approves Separation". Wvculture.org. West Virginia Division of Culture and History.
  10. Holt, Michael F. (200). The fate of their country: politicians, slavery extension, and the coming of the Civil War. New York: Hill and Wang. p. 15. ISBN   978-0-8090-4439-9.
  11. "The 14th State". Vermont History Explorer. Vermont Historical Society.
  12. "California Admission Day September 9, 1850". CA.gov. California Department of Parks and Recreation.
  13. 1 2 3 4 "Policy Basics: Where Do Our State Tax Dollars Go?". Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. 10 April 2009.