Comparison of U.S. state governments

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The states of the United States have individual and unique governments with many similarities. All states are required by the constitution to have republican governments. Despite their similarities, all states have different government structures and procedures.

The following tables compare some of the features of state governments, territory governments, and the District of Columbia, in the United States.

Legislative[edit]

All American state legislatures have two legislative bodies, except Nebraska, which has one. Most of these bodies are bicameral, meaning there is one legislative body separated into two units. However some systems, such as New York, have two legislative bodies although never technically referring to them in the state constitution as a single body. These dual systems are generally considered bicameral.

The following table compares common legislative features of each state, the District of Columbia, and the five U.S. territories.

Lower house Upper house Total
State Legislative branch constitutional name Name Size Term length in years Term limit Name Size Term length in years Term limit Filibuster[1] Total
California California State Legislature California State Assembly 80 2 Not more than 12 years in either house, combined[2] California State Senate 40 4 Not more than 12 years in either house, combined[2] No 120
Texas Texas Legislature Texas House of Representatives 150 2 None Texas Senate 31 2 or 4 None Yes 181
New York New York State Assembly and New York State Senate New York State Assembly 150 2 None New York State Senate 62 2 None No 212
Florida Florida Legislature Florida House of Representatives 120 2 Four terms Florida Senate 40 2 or 4 Two terms Yes 160
Illinois Illinois General Assembly Illinois House of Representatives 118 2 None Illinois Senate 59 2 or 4 None No 177
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania General Assembly Pennsylvania House of Representatives 203 2 None Pennsylvania State Senate 50 4 None No 253
Ohio Ohio General Assembly Ohio House of Representatives 99 2 Four terms Ohio Senate 33 4 Two terms No 132
Michigan Michigan Legislature Michigan House of Representatives 110 2 Three terms Michigan Senate 38 4 Two terms No 148
Georgia Georgia General Assembly Georgia House of Representatives 180 2 None Georgia Senate 56 2 None No 236
North Carolina North Carolina General Assembly North Carolina House of Representatives 120 2 None North Carolina Senate 50 2 None No 170
New Jersey New Jersey Legislature New Jersey General Assembly 80 2 None New Jersey Senate 40 2 or 4 None No 120
Virginia Virginia General Assembly Virginia House of Delegates 100 2 None Senate of Virginia 40 4 None No 140
Washington Washington State Legislature Washington House of Representatives 98 2 None Washington State Senate 49 4 None No 147
Arizona Arizona Legislature Arizona House of Representatives 60 2 Four consecutive[3] terms Arizona Senate 30 2 Four consecutive[3] terms No 90
Massachusetts General Court of Massachusetts Massachusetts House of Representatives 160 2 None Massachusetts Senate 40 2 None No 200
Indiana Indiana General Assembly Indiana House of Representatives 100 2 None Indiana Senate 50 4 None No 150
Tennessee Tennessee General Assembly Tennessee House of Representatives 99 2 None Tennessee Senate 33 4 None No 132
Missouri Missouri General Assembly Missouri House of Representatives 163 2 Four terms[4] Missouri Senate 34 4 Eight years[4] (Two terms) No 197
Maryland Maryland General Assembly Maryland House of Delegates 141 4 None Maryland State Senate 47 4 None No 188
Wisconsin Wisconsin Legislature Wisconsin State Assembly 99 2 None Wisconsin Senate 33 4 None No 132
Minnesota Minnesota Legislature Minnesota House of Representatives 134 2 None Minnesota Senate 67 4 None No 201
Colorado Colorado General Assembly Colorado House of Representatives 65 2 Four consecutive terms Colorado Senate 35 4 Two consecutive terms No 100
Alabama Alabama Legislature Alabama House of Representatives 105 4 None Alabama Senate 35 4 None Yes 140
South Carolina South Carolina General Assembly South Carolina House of Representatives 124 2 None South Carolina Senate 46 4 None Yes 170
Louisiana Louisiana State Legislature Louisiana House of Representatives 105 4 Three terms Louisiana State Senate 39 4 Three terms No 144
Kentucky Kentucky General Assembly Kentucky House of Representatives 100 2 None Kentucky Senate 38 4 None No 138
Oregon Oregon Legislative Assembly Oregon House of Representatives 60 2 None[note 1] Oregon State Senate 30 4 None[note 2] No 90
Oklahoma Oklahoma Legislature Oklahoma House of Representatives 101 2 Not more than 12 years in either house, combined Oklahoma Senate 48 4 Not more than 12 years in either house, combined No 149
Connecticut Connecticut General Assembly Connecticut House of Representatives 151 2 None Connecticut Senate 36 2 None Yes 187
Iowa Iowa General Assembly Iowa House of Representatives 100 2 None Iowa Senate 50 4 None No 150
Mississippi Mississippi Legislature Mississippi House of Representatives 122 4 None Mississippi State Senate 52 4 None No 174
Arkansas Arkansas General Assembly Arkansas House of Representatives 100 2 Three terms Arkansas Senate 35 4 Two terms Yes 135
Kansas Kansas Legislature Kansas House of Representatives 125 2 None Kansas Senate 40 4 None No 165
Utah Utah State Legislature Utah House of Representatives 75 2 None Utah State Senate 29 4 None Yes 104
Nevada Nevada Legislature Nevada Assembly 42 2 Six terms Nevada Senate 21 4 Three terms No 63
New Mexico New Mexico Legislature New Mexico House of Representatives 70 2 None New Mexico Senate 42 4 None No 112
West Virginia West Virginia Legislature West Virginia House of Delegates 100 2 None West Virginia Senate 34 4 None No 134
Nebraska Nebraska Legislature N/A N/A N/A N/A Unicameral and nonpartisan 49 4 Two terms Yes 49
Idaho Idaho Legislature Idaho House of Representatives 70 2 None Idaho Senate 35 2 None Yes 105
Maine Maine Legislature Maine House of Representatives 153 2 Four terms Maine Senate 35 2 Four terms Yes 188
New Hampshire New Hampshire General Court New Hampshire House of Representatives 400 2 None New Hampshire Senate 24 2 None No 424
Hawaii Hawaii State Legislature Hawaii House of Representatives 51 2 None Hawaii Senate 25 4 None Yes 76
Rhode Island Rhode Island General Assembly Rhode Island House of Representatives 75 2 None Rhode Island Senate 38 2 None No 113
Montana Montana State Legislature Montana House of Representatives 100 2 Four terms Montana Senate 50 4 Two terms No 150
Delaware Delaware General Assembly Delaware House of Representatives 41 2 None Delaware Senate 21 2 or 4 None No 62
South Dakota South Dakota State Legislature South Dakota House of Representatives 70 2 Four terms South Dakota Senate 35 4 Two terms No 105
Alaska Alaska Legislature Alaska House of Representatives 40 2 None Alaska Senate 20 4 None Yes 60
North Dakota North Dakota Legislative Assembly North Dakota House of Representatives 94 2 None North Dakota Senate 47 4 None No 141
Vermont Vermont General Assembly Vermont House of Representatives 150 2 None Vermont Senate 30 2 None Yes 180
Wyoming Wyoming Legislature Wyoming House of Representatives 60 2 None Wyoming Senate 30 4 None No 90
U.S. Virgin Islands Legislature of the Virgin Islands N/A N/A N/A N/A Unicameral 15 2 None No 15
District of Columbia Council of the District of Columbia Unicameral 13 4 None N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 13
Puerto Rico Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico House of Representatives of Puerto Rico 51 4 None Senate of Puerto Rico 31 4 None No 82
Guam Legislature of Guam N/A N/A N/A N/A Unicameral 15 2 None No 15
Northern Mariana Islands Northern Mariana Islands Commonwealth Legislature Northern Mariana Islands House of Representatives 20 2 None Northern Mariana Islands Senate 9 4 None No 29
American Samoa American Samoa Fono American Samoa House of Representatives 21 2 None American Samoa Senate 18 4 None No 39

Supermajority requirements[edit]

While only 13 states have a filibuster, there are often restrictions on the majority a state needs to raise taxes.

Legend
  Effective supermajority system
  Majority rule (22)
  Mixed system
Key State Notes
Alabama The Alabama State Senate allows a filibuster, and has a general three-fifths requirement to enact cloture. A simple majority of 18 is acceptable when dealing with the budget and redistricting.[5]
Arkansas Arkansas, along with Rhode Island, is one of the only states that requires a supermajority to pass a budget. A three-fourths majority is required for appropriations, except for education, highways, and paying down the state debt, which require a simple majority.[6]
California From 1933-2011 there was a two-thirds requirement for general fund appropriations for purposes other than public schools (Const., Art. IV, Sec. 12). Because the Legislature typically passes one main budget bill, the requirement effectively applied to the whole budget bill.[7] There has been a two-thirds requirement for tax increases since Proposition 13 in 1978. In 2010, voters approved Proposition 25, eliminating the 2/3 requirement for the budget, but keeping it for tax increases.

Executive[edit]

The Governor is the chief executive official in all states. D.C. has a mayor which serves executive functions in the District, although constitutionally it is controlled by Congress.

State Governor term length Governor term limit Lieutenant Governor First in line of succession
Alabama Four years Two consecutive terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
Alaska Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
Arizona Four years Two consecutive terms[note 3] No Secretary of State
Arkansas Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
California Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
Colorado Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
Connecticut Four years None Yes Lieutenant Governor
Delaware Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
District of Columbia Mayor: Four years Mayor: None No District of Columbia Council Chairman[8]
Florida Four years Two consecutive terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
Georgia Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
Hawaii Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
Idaho Four years None Yes Lieutenant Governor
Illinois Four years None Yes Lieutenant Governor
Indiana Four years Two terms in a 12-year period[note 4] Yes Lieutenant Governor
Iowa Four years None Yes Lieutenant Governor
Kansas Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
Kentucky Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
Louisiana Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
Maine Four years Two terms No President of the Senate
Maryland Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
Massachusetts Four years None Yes Lieutenant Governor
Michigan Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
Minnesota Four years None Yes Lieutenant Governor
Mississippi Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
Missouri Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
Montana Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
Nebraska Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
Nevada Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
New Hampshire Two years None No President of the Senate
New Jersey Four years Two terms Yes[note 5] Lieutenant Governor
New Mexico Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
New York Four years None Yes Lieutenant Governor
North Carolina Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
North Dakota Four years None Yes Lieutenant Governor
Ohio Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
Oklahoma Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
Oregon Four years Two consecutive terms No Secretary of State
Pennsylvania Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
Puerto Rico Four years None No Secretary of State
Rhode Island Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
South Carolina Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
South Dakota Four years Two terms Yes Lieutenant Governor
Tennessee Four years Two terms Yes[note 6] President of the Senate
Texas Four years None Yes Lieutenant Governor
Utah Four years None Yes Lieutenant Governor
Vermont Two years None Yes Lieutenant Governor
Virginia Four years No limit on number, but terms cannot be consecutive Yes Lieutenant Governor
Washington Four years None Yes Lieutenant Governor
West Virginia Four years Two terms Yes[note 7] President of the Senate
Wisconsin Four years None Yes Lieutenant Governor
Wyoming Four years Two terms No Secretary of State

Note: Table does not distinguish between consecutive term limits and total term limits, unless otherwise noted.

Judicial[edit]

State Highest court High court seats High court term High court judicial placement method Mandatory retirement age[note 8]
Alabama Supreme Court of Alabama 9 6 years Partisan election
Alaska Alaska Supreme Court 5 10 years Missouri Plan
Arizona Arizona Supreme Court 5 6 years Missouri Plan 70
Arkansas Arkansas Supreme Court 7 8 years Non-partisan election
California Supreme Court of California 7 12 years Missouri Plan
Colorado Colorado Supreme Court 7 10 years Missouri Plan
Connecticut Connecticut Supreme Court 7 8 years[9] Election by the state legislature 70
Delaware Delaware Supreme Court 5 12 years Appointment by governor
Florida Florida Supreme Court 7 6 years Modified Missouri Plan 70 (or end of current term)
Georgia Supreme Court of Georgia 7 6 years Non-partisan election
Hawaii Supreme Court of Hawaii 5 10 years Appointment by the Governor 70
Idaho Idaho Supreme Court 5 6 years Non-partisan election
Illinois Supreme Court of Illinois 7 10 years Partisan election
Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana 5 10 years[note 9] Missouri Plan 75[note 10]
Iowa Iowa Supreme Court 7 8 years Missouri Plan 72
Kansas Kansas Supreme Court 7 6 years Missouri Plan 70 (or end of current term)
Kentucky Kentucky Supreme Court 7 8 years Non-partisan election
Louisiana Supreme Court of Louisiana 7 10 years Partisan election
Maine Maine Supreme Judicial Court 7 7 years Appointment by the Governor
Maryland Maryland Court of Appeals 7 10 years Appointment by the Governor 70
Massachusetts Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court 7 Lifetime Appointment by the Governor 70
Michigan Michigan Supreme Court 7 8 years Non-partisan election[note 11] Must be under 70 at time of election
Minnesota Minnesota Supreme Court 7 6 years Non-partisan election 70
Mississippi Supreme Court of Mississippi 9 8 years Non-partisan election
Missouri Supreme Court of Missouri 7 12 years Missouri Plan
Montana Montana Supreme Court 7 8 years Non-partisan election
Nebraska Nebraska Supreme Court 7 6 years Missouri Plan
Nevada Supreme Court of Nevada 7 6 years Non-partisan election
New Hampshire New Hampshire Supreme Court 5 Lifetime Appointment by Governor 70
New Jersey New Jersey Supreme Court 7 7 years[10] Appointment by Governor 70
New Mexico New Mexico Supreme Court 5 8 years Partisan election/Retention election
New York New York Court of Appeals 7 14 years Appointed by the Governor 70 (at end of calendar year)
North Carolina North Carolina Supreme Court 7 8 years Non-partisan election
North Dakota North Dakota Supreme Court 5 10 years Non-partisan election
Ohio Ohio Supreme Court 7 6 years Non-partisan election 70 (at end of term)
Oklahoma Oklahoma Supreme Court
Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals
Supreme Court: 9
Court of Criminal Appeals: 5
6 years (both) Missouri Plan
Oregon Oregon Supreme Court 7 6 years Non-partisan election 75
Pennsylvania Supreme Court of Pennsylvania 7 10 years Partisan election 78
Puerto Rico Supreme Court of Puerto Rico 9 Lifetime Appointment by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate 70
Rhode Island Rhode Island Supreme Court 5 Lifetime[11] Modified Missouri Plan None[11]
South Carolina South Carolina Supreme Court 5 10 years Election by State Legislature 72
South Dakota South Dakota Supreme Court 5 8 years Non-partisan election
Tennessee Tennessee Supreme Court 5 8 years Tennessee Plan (Modified Missouri Plan)
Texas Texas Supreme Court
Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
9 (both) 6 years (both) Partisan election 75 (may finish term or 4 years of term, whichever is shorter)
Utah Utah Supreme Court 5 4 years Missouri Plan
Vermont Vermont Supreme Court 5 6 years Election by State Legislature
Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia 7 12 years Election by State Legislature 70[12]
Washington Washington Supreme Court 9 6 years Non-partisan election 75
West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia 5 12 years Partisan election
Wisconsin Wisconsin Supreme Court 7 10 years Non-partisan election
Wyoming Wyoming Supreme Court 5 8 years Missouri Plan

Note: Table does not distinguish between term lengths that result in a new election and term lengths that result in a retention vote but not a full election.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ State representatives were limited to three terms (6 years) until term limits were repealed by Oregon Ballot Measure 3 (1992).
  2. ^ State senators were limited to two terms (8 years) until term limits were repealed by Oregon Ballot Measure 3 (1992).
  3. ^ Governor may serve unlimited terms but only two in a row.
  4. ^ Governors of Indiana may serve an unlimited number of terms, but may only serve for eight years in any twelve-year period. (Constitution of Indiana Article 5)
  5. ^ Office created in 2005 and implemented in 2009
  6. ^ The President of the Senate is also the Lieutenant Governor.
  7. ^ The President of the Senate is also the Lieutenant Governor.
  8. ^ Uncompleted entries do not indicate the lack of a retirement age, only a lack of data in this article. States without a mandatory retirement age will indicate "None".
  9. ^ Retention election held after two years of service. Mandatory retirement at age 75.
  10. ^ The Indiana retirement age is the same regardless of the length of the Justice's remaining term.
  11. ^ While Michigan law stipulates that State Supreme Court judges be listed on the "non-partisan" section on the ballot, only candidates who have been nominated by political parties with ballot access at their respective state conventions are allowed to stand in the succeeding general election. Subsequently, each party is only allowed to nominate as many candidates as there are supreme court seats up for election in a given year.

References[edit]

  1. ^ De Groot, Daniel. "36 State Senates preclude the possibility of filibuster". Retrieved June 26, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b The new limit was decided by referendum as Proposition 28, on June 2012. Between 1990 to that date, one could serve 3 terms in the House and 2 in the Senate, which means the new limit is globally earlier but roughly doubles in each body.
  3. ^ a b Arizona Constitution, Art. 4, Part 2, Sec. 21
  4. ^ a b Missouri Constitution, Art. III, Sec. 8
  5. ^ http://www.legislature.state.al.us/senate/senaterules/senaterules1.html
  6. ^ http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/budget/supermajority-vote-requirements-to-pass-the-budget.aspx
  7. ^ http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/budget/supermajority-vote-requirements-to-pass-the-budget.aspx
  8. ^ http://www.wtop.com/?nid=428&sid=1634019
  9. ^ Judgepedia.org, Connecticut Supreme Court, found here.
  10. ^ Refers to initial "probation" period. If the governor reappoints them (almost universally true) they then serve for life
  11. ^ a b Linda Greenhouse, "The Case for Term Limits on the Supreme Court with Linda Greenhouse", Yale Political Union, May 28, 2009, [1]
  12. ^ Aaron Applegate, Mike Saewitz, "Bill seeks to raise mandatory retirement age for judges to 73", The Virginian-Pilot, February 4, 2010, [2]

Sources[edit]