State and Local Government



In addition to the federal government, each state has its own constitution and its own government. Each state government also has three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial.

The leader of the state executive branch is called the governor. The people of each state vote in elections to choose their governor and their representatives to the state legislature. The state legislature makes the laws that apply in each state. These laws cannot conflict with the U.S. Constitution, and each state judicial branch upholds the laws of that state.

Each state also has local governments. There are city or county governments or sometimes both. They provide and oversee many services in your local community, such as public schools and libraries, police and fire departments, and water, gas, and electric services. People in local communities usually vote for local government officials, but some local officials are appointed. Local governments have different forms. Some have mayors as their leaders; some have city councils or county councils. Local communities also have school boards, citizens who are elected or appointed to oversee the public schools.

- Abridged from State Dept. Publications and other U.S. government materials
Online Documents
State Government and Laws Resources

[Last Updated: 12/6/2010]
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