Chapter 4: State and
Local Government
The United STATES
The State was the original unit of government (Articles of
Confederation).
 State governments used to create/give power to the
Federal government. (Confederation)
 State governments still create all local governments
 School Boards
 Cities
 Counties
 Townships
 Local governments still derive power from citizens, but
citizens create local government by petitioning the state
government.

Cooperative Federalism




Growth of full-time, professional state and local
governments.
No guarantees that urban populations would be
well represented.
State governments set the manner and place for
Federal Congressional elections (Article 1, Sec 4).
State governments also set manner and place of
elections for state office.
One-person, one-vote

State governments set the manner and place for
Federal Congressional elections (Article 1, Sec 4).

State governments also set manner and place of
elections for state office.

1962: Baker v. Carr – 14th Amendment (Equal
Protection) requires one person = one vote…
 State
legislative districts must be equal.
 Much
 State
greater minority protection
government becomes more responsive.
Great Society and beyond (1960s and
1970s)

Federal government added to responsibilities of
state and local governments.

Federal programs administered at state and
local level
 Combatting
 Protecting

poverty
environment
Federal assistance / requirements improves
capacity / abilities of state and local
government.
New Federalism

1980s, President Reagan

Shifted power and authority back to State
governments.

Needed to address federal budget deficits.

Reversed in part during post-9/11 era
 Law
enforcement
 Education
 Public
health
Confusion

“Post-New Federalism” era
 Supreme
Court Decisions under current Chief Justice
Roberts are a mix
Strengthening
Obamacare
Affirming
Federal Supremacy – ie. Upholding
States rights –ie. TX death penalty law.
State Government


State Constitutions (p. 126)

Document describes the basic policies, procedures, and
institutions of state government.

Serves same function as Federal Constitution.

State legislatures generally stronger than executive.
Quirky State Constitutions:

Florida – Animal Cruelty Amendment – protects pregnant pigs
from cruel confinement. FL Amendment process allows voters to
bypass the legislature.

Alabama State Constitution has 766 Amendments! Texas has 653!
Can you guess why?

AL – 11 separate amendments related to Bingo!
Pennsylvania State Constitution

PA has had 5 Constitutions since independence,.

The current Constitution was written in 1968. (needed
to unify the judicial branch, added a second term
possibility for Governor)

Owing to Quaker influence, PA’s Constitution has one
of the strongest Bills of Rights of any state constitution
– it remains almost unchanged since the first draft.

Includes guarantee of free, public education

27 Amendments
State Government

Governor
 Chief elected executive in state government
 Similar to President in many powers and responsibilities
 In PA – limited to two consecutive four year terms
 Current PA Governor? Tom Corbett (R)
 Up for re-election in 2014
 Set agenda for term in office
 Submits annual budgets
 Less power to appoint agency heads than President:
Attorney General, Sec. of State, Treasurer often elected.
 Most do not appoint judges.
Judicial Authority of Governors

Pardon
 Authority
to cancel someone’s conviction of
a crime by a court, and elimination of all
punishments resulting from the conviction.

Commute
 Authority
to cancel all or part of the
sentence of someone convicted of a crime,
while keeping the conviction on record.
Judicial Authority of Governors

Parole
 Authority
to release a prisoner before their full
sentence has been completed, and to specify
conditions of such a release.

Extradite
 To
send someone (against their will) to another
state to face criminal charges.
US
Constitution: Extradition Clause
Veto


Package or General Veto

(what the President of the United States has)

The authority of a chief executive to void an entire bill that has
been passed by the legislature.

Legislature may override, usually with a 2/3 majority of each
chamber.
Line Item Veto

The ability of a chief executive to delete part of a bill passed by
the legislature.

Involves taxing and spending.

All but 7 state governors have this – PA Governor has this.
State Legislatures

Most powerful institutions of state government

Far less balanced power (fewer checks and balances) then
at the Federal level.

PA: General Assembly, contains a Senate and a House

All state legislatures are bicameral except for NE

PA currently considering proposed amendment to reduce
size of General Assembly
State Courts

Most courts are state courts (because most law is state law).

Courts handle disputes and administrative processes:
 Crime
 Family
law (marriage, divorce, adoption, custody)
 Contracts
 Liability

State and Federal Court systems are separate
 Inclusion:
state courts will apply federal laws when those laws
directly conflict with laws of a state
Selection of Judges

Most state judges are elected, not appointed

To screen for qualifications, judges in 23 states are
selected through a process called the Missouri (Merit)
Plan.
A
panel recommends a list of qualified judges, the
governor makes an appointment from this list. At the
end of the first term, these judges must be re-elected
by voters.

PA judges are elected, and judges run with clearly
identified party affiliations. (13 states select judges this
way).
Political Parties
Chapter 11!
Direct Democracy

Direct initiative
 Voters
can place a proposal on the ballot and
enact it into law without involving the legislature
or governor.
 Currently
 Sorry
allowed in 24 states
– no direct initiatives in Pennsylvania!
Direct Democracy

Indirect initiative
 Legislatures
consider/pass a bill that will only
become law if approved by the voters.
 Often used to ask voters to endorse a piece of
legislation that cannot pass the legislature or risks a
veto by the governor.
 Very rare – only allowed in 11 states
 High rate of success – over 40% passage rate
 Sorry again! Not used in Pennsylvania!
Direct Democracy

Referendum (direct/popular)
 Voters
can veto a bill recently passed by the
legislature.
 Also
called a “Binding” referendum
 Pennsylvania
– limited referendums
 Constitutional
 Limited
Amendments
use for bond issues (borrowing money)
Direct Democracy

Advisory (non-binding) referendum
A
way to collect the voters opinion
Direct Democracy

Recall –
 Voters
can petition for a vote to remove office
holders between elections.
 Judges,
 Sorry
legislators, governors
again (again!) – No recall in Pennsylvania!
Local Government

Dillon’s Rule
 Local
governments do not have any inherent
sovereignty but instead must be authorized by
state government.

Charter
A
document that specifies the basic policies,
procedures, and institutions of a municipality.
Charters

Special Charters: Early municipal charters were written by local governments
and approved individually by states. Discontinued in most states.

General Charters: A standard charter used by some states for all
municipalities, regardless of size or circumstances.
 Classified
Charters: Standardized charters applied to cities according
to population.
 Optional
Charters: Some states have several charters available, from
which the voters of a community choose.
 Home-rule
Charters: States outline the major requirements a charter
must meet. Communities draft charters according to these rules, then
submit them to the state for approval.
Local Governments

Counties: A geographic district within a state. Broad
responsibilities – administer welfare and environmental
programs, courts, registry of birth and deaths.

Towns: A form of government in which officers are elected,
ordinances adopted, and budget passed at an annual
meeting.

Municipality: Villages, towns, cities – all authorized by state
governments. Created upon emergence of a population
center.

Special Districts: Restricted to a particular purpose – school
boards, libraries, sewer/water management, parks.
Executives/Legislatures
No required separation of powers.
 Town Meeting: All eligible voters are allowed to
attend, attendees vote on budgets and
ordinances.
 Mayor: the chief elected official of a city.
 City Council: city legislature
 Manager: a professional hired to manage daily
municipal operations and to recommend
policy decisions.

Municipal Elections



District-based: candidates run for an office that
represents only the voters of a specific district
within the jurisdiction.
At-large: Election in which candidates must
compete throughout the jurisdiction as a whole.
Nonpartisan election: Candidates run without
formal identification/association with a political
party.
Other Municipal Institutions

Commission: Several officials are elected to
top positions that have both legislative and
executive responsibilities,

Public Corporation/Authority: established to
provide a particular service. Independent from
city/state agencies. Operated like a business.
 Port
Authority
 Mass
 Can
Transit System
you think of another…?
State and Local Finances

State and Local budgets must balance!
 No
deficit spending
 No surpluses

State Governments
 Income
Tax
 Sales Tax

Local Government
 Property
Tax
Types of taxes

Progressive tax


Regressive tax



Based upon ability to pay
A tax that decreases as the taxpayer’s income increases.
User fees

Charges based upon use of a public resource

Segregated funds: User fees are collected/accounted for
separately from general revenue, and restricted for a
specific use.
Pages 148-149
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Chapter 4: State and Local Government