Document Sample
     Chapter 4
 O’Connor and Sabato
American Government:
Continuity and Change
In this chapter we will cover…
  1. The Evolution of State and Local
  2. Grassroots Power and Politics
  3. State Governments
  4. Local Governments
  5. Relations with Indian Nations
  6. Finances
       The Evolution of State
      and Local Governments
Governance in the United States is by multiple
 authorities. Sometimes they work together, other
 times they seem to work at cross purposes.
  – At independence, the thirteen colonial governments
    became states tied together in a loose confederation
    under the Articles.
  – They formed a federal union in the late 1780s in order
    to address the weakness of the confederative model.
  – States create and determine the powers of local
    governments in our system.
   The Evolution Continued
– In 1962, the Supreme Court forced the states
  to redistrict and become more representative of
  the states’ population. In Baker v. Carr, the
  Court applied the Fourteenth Amendment's
  Equal Protection Clause to voters.
  • The ruling of “one man, one vote” required that
    legislatures redistrict so that all districts have an
    equal number of constituents.
    The Evolution Continued
• During the 1960s and 1970s, the
  national government added to the
  responsibilities of the state and local
  –Federal programs to fight poverty,
   promote urban renewal, and protect
   the environment were administered at
   the state and local levels.
     The Evolution Continued
• In the 1990s, the clear message was that state and
  local governments were increasingly important.
• States, cities, and local governments are taking
  bold initiatives and establishing direct ties with
  each other and with other countries to spur
  economic growth.
• Governors have become important national
  actors. State legislators, county officials, city
  managers, and other officials now travel the
  globe promoting the interests of their
  Grassroots Power and Politics
• Most small towns have a local dynasty--some big
  towns have them, too.
• State politics, and particularly local politics, are
  often more personal, non-partisan, and issue-
  oriented than national politics.
• A full understanding of what happens at the
  grassroots includes an appreciation of local elites,
  local issues, local news media, and issue-specific
  organizations through which local and state
  governments make and implement policies.
              State Governments
• The primary responsibilities of state governments are:
   –   education
   –   public health
   –   transportation
   –   economic development
   –   criminal justice
   –   the licensing and regulation of professions (teachers, social
       workers, doctors, lawyers, barbers/stylists, architects, etc.)
• Additionally, states have become more active in
  welfare and environmental issues both on their own
  and as administrators of national programs.
           State Constitutions
• State constitutions generally limit the powers of
  the state governments.
• After the Civil War, the states of the South were
  forced to adopt new constitutions acceptable to
  the victorious North. Often these constitutions
  gave significant powers to former slaves and
  disenfranchised the traditional elites.
• After Reconstruction, these states adopted yet
  newer constitutions reflecting white distrust of
  power and providing for weak governments.
             State Constitutions
• Western states also chose weak governments.
• Many Western states allow voters to enact
  legislation through initiatives and recall elections
  to remove officials from office.
• The trend has been to strengthen state
  governments so that they can more effectively
  deal with important issues.
• Terms of governors have been lengthened, and
  they have been given additional authority over
• Legislatures have become full-time with more
  adequate pay, and courts were strengthened.
• Governors are the chief executive officers of the
  states. They have both ceremonial and
  policymaking roles.
• In most states, governors:
  – propose the budget
  – have veto authority
  – have appointment powers
  – have power to pardon someone who has been
    convicted of a crime
  – can commute sentences, grant parole, and extradite
           State Legislatures
• All states except Nebraska have bicameral
• By 1999, twenty states limited the number
  of terms a legislator could serve. The
  limits range from six to twelve years.
• State legislatures are still primarily part-
  time bodies. There is abundant turnover--
  over 25% of seats each election.
                  State Courts
• The primary function of courts is to settle disputes.
  Criminal behavior, family law, contracts, and land use
  are all issues for state law and state courts.
• State court judges are are usually elected to the bench
  for a specific term.
• Sixteen states have partisan elections to the bench,
  another sixteen states hold nonpartisan elections.
• Six states use gubernatorial appointments. The
  remaining states use the Missouri Plan in which the
  governor selects appointees from a list prepared by an
  independent panel.
• Elections are the methodology for
  determining who will direct the institutions
  of state government.
• Highly partisan… however, campaigns are
  usually centered on individual candidates.
Patterns of Party Competition in
       State Legislatures
          Direct Democracy
• Direct initiative: The process in which
  voters can place a proposal on a ballot and
  enact it into law without involving the
  legislature or the governor.
• Indirect initiative: The process in which
  the legislature places a proposal on a ballot
  and allows voters to enact it into law
  without involving the legislature or the
           Local Governments
Formed by a charter—a document that specifies
 basic procedures, politics, and institutions of any
 local municipality. Similar to a constitution.
Counties: subdivisions of every state except
 Connecticut and Rhode Island.
Towns: government in which everyone is
 invited to an annual meeting for elections,
 budget discussions, etc.
Municipalities: villages, towns, and cities
Special Districts: school districts, etc.
              Types of Charters
           for Local Governments
•   Special Charters
•   General Charters
•   Classified Charters
•   Optional Charters
•   Home Rule Charters
  Executives and Legislatures
Local governments have some or all of
  the following decision-making positions:
• Elected executive: mayor, village
• Elected council or commission: city
  council, school board, county board.
• Appointed manager: city manager, school
 Relations With Indian Nations
• Treaties between the national government and Indian
  nations directly affect thirty-four states.
• The status of Indian tribes today is that of “domestic
  dependent nations.”
• The national government has ceded authority to the
  states, except for several specific areas such as gaming
  and criminal behavior.
• The two most important features of federal-tribal
  relations for state and local governments are land rights
  and treaty provisions for hunting, fishing, and
• Unlike the national government, states and localities
  must balance their budgets.
• States receive as much as 25% of their funds from
  Washington, D.C.
• Local governments get as much as 15% of their money
  from the federal government.
• Different governments depend on different taxes and
  fees for revenue.
   – States rely primarily on income and sales taxes.
   – Local governments tend to rely on property taxes and some
     sales tax income.
   – Both local and state governments levy users fees for parks,
     hunting licenses, tuition, and so on.
State and Local Tax Burdens

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