Government of California
The government of California, pursuant to the California Constitution, is composed of three branches: the executive, consisting of the Governor of California and the other elected constitutional officers; the legislative, consisting of the California State Legislature, which includes the Assembly and the Senate; and the judicial, consisting of the Supreme Court of California and lower courts. There is also local government, consisting of counties, cities and special districts, including school districts, as well as government entities and offices that operate independently on a constitutional, statutory, or common law basis. The state also allows direct participation of the electorate by initiative, referendum, recall and ratification.
California's executive branch is headed by the Governor. Other executive positions are the:
- Lieutenant Governor,
- Attorney General,
- Secretary of State,
- State Treasurer,
- State Controller,
- Insurance Commissioner,
- and State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
All offices are elected separately to concurrent four-year terms, and each officer may be elected to an office a maximum of two times. The Governor has the powers and responsibilities to: sign or veto laws passed by the Legislature, including a line item veto; appoint judges, subject to ratification by the electorate; propose a state budget; give the annual State of the State address; command the state militia; and grant pardons for any crime, except cases involving impeachment by the Legislature. The Lieutenant Governor is the President of the California Senate and acts as the governor when the Governor is unable to execute the office, including whenever the Governor leaves the state. The Governor and Lieutenant Governor also serve as ex officio members of the University of California Board of Regents and of the California State University Board of Trustees.
State government is organized into several many departments, of which most are grouped together into several huge Cabinet-level agencies. These agencies are sometimes informally referred to as superagencies, especially by government officials, to distinguish them from the general usage of the term "government agency." The independently-elected officers run separate departments not grouped within the superagencies.
The main Cabinet-level agencies (superagencies) are the:
- California Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency (BCSH)
- California Government Operations Agency (CalGovOps)
- California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR)
- California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA)
- California Health and Human Services Agency (CHHS)
- California Labor and Workforce Development Agency (LWDA)
- California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA)
- California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA)
There are many government entities and offices that are under neither executive, legislative, judicial, or local control, but operate independently on a constitutional, statutory, or common law basis.
Examples include the:
The California State Legislature is the state legislature. It is a bicameral body consisting of the California State Assembly, the lower house with 80 members, and the California State Senate, the upper house with 40 members. Members of the Assembly serve two-year terms; members of the Senate serve four-year terms, with half of the seats up for election on alternate (two year) election cycles. The Legislature currently meets in the California State Capitol in Sacramento.
The Judiciary of California interprets and applies the law, and is defined under the Constitution, law, and regulations. The judiciary has a hierarchical structure with the Supreme Court at the apex. The Superior Courts are the primary trial courts, and the Courts of Appeal are the primary appellate courts. The Judicial Council is the rule-making arm of the judiciary.
The California Supreme Court consists of the Chief Justice of California and six Associate Justices. The Court has original jurisdiction in a variety of cases, including habeas corpus proceedings, and has discretionary authority to review all the decisions of the California Courts of Appeal, as well as mandatory review responsibility for cases where the death penalty has been imposed. The Courts of Appeal are the intermediate appellate courts. The state is geographically divided into six appellate districts. Notably, all published California appellate decisions are binding on all Superior Courts, regardless of appellate district.
The Superior Courts are the courts of general jurisdiction that hear and decide any civil or criminal action which is not specially designated to be heard before some other court or governmental agency. As mandated by the Constitution, each of the 58 counties has a superior court.
California is divided into counties which are legal subdivisions of the state. There are 58 California counties, 480 California cities, and about 3,400 Special Districts and School Districts. Special Districts deliver specific public programs and public facilities to constituents, and are defined as "any agency of the state for the local performance of governmental or proprietary functions within limited boundaries."
- "Overview, Board of Trustees". California State University. Retrieved 15 June 2011.
- Lawrence, David G. (2012). California: The Politics of Diversity. Wadsworth. p. 156.
- Constitution of California, article 4, section 2(a)
- Constitution of California, article 11, section 1
- Mizany, Kimia; Manatt, April. What’s So Special About Special Districts? A Citizen’s Guide to Special Districts in California (3 ed.). California Senate Local Government Committee.
- Government Code § 16271(d)
- California Government official website
- California Courts official website
- California at Ballotpedia
- California at Judgepedia
- California at Sunshine Review