My State Government

Contributor: Meghan Vestal. Lesson ID: 12138

Most people hear a lot about the president, the Supreme Court, and the Congress of the United States. Do you know who your state officials are, and how the state government is run? It's time to learn!

categories

United States

subject
Government
learning style
Visual
personality style
Lion, Beaver
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

Audio:

Like a tree, state governments have several branches. These branches work together to keep the state running, but who runs the tree?

In the previous Related Lesson of our Local and State Government series, found in the right-hand sidebar, you learned about the responsibilities of local and state government.

To review what you have learned so far, discuss the following questions with your teacher or parent:

  • What responsibilities are unique to local government?
  • What responsibilities are unique to state government?
  • What responsibilities are shared by local and state government? Make sure to explain how the local and state governments share those powers.

If you have difficulty answering any of the review questions, you may want to go back and review the information from the previous lesson before moving forward with this lesson.

Now that you know what local and state governments do, you will learn about the people and titles that make up local and state government. In this lesson, you will research the different positions in state government and you will research your own state government.

You will read an article about the different branches and positions that make up state government. As you read State & Local Government (WhiteHouse.gov), write the answers to the following questions on a separate piece of paper. Only read the first half of the article. Stop when you get to the "Local Government" section. You will read more about local government during the next Related Lesson.

  1. What are all state governments modeled after?
  2. Who is the leader of the executive branch of state government?
  3. What other government leaders make up the executive branch of state government?
  4. How is the governor selected?
  5. What is the purpose of the legislative branch of state government?
  6. What is the only state that does not have a bicameral, or two-house, legislature?
  7. How does the legislative branch vary from state to state?
  8. How are members of the legislative branch selected?
  9. Who is the leader of the judicial branch of state government?
  10. If there are questions surrounding the decision made by a state supreme court, where does the court case go?

When you are finished, read through the information below to check your work.

By reading the article, you found that each state government is structured a little bit differently. No two state governments look exactly alike. State governments are modeled after the federal government. Each state has its own constitution, practices a republican form of government (this means power is held by the people and they elect their representatives), and is made up of three branches. Like the federal government, the three branches of state government are the executive branch, the legislative branch, and the judicial branch. Different branches are created to ensure there are checks and balances within state government.


The question at the beginning of the lesson asked you who is the leader of the "tree," the state’s government. Tell the answer to your teacher or parent.

The leader of the executive branch is the governor. The governor acts like the president of a state. The governor signs and vetoes laws. The governor also acts as the state’s representative at events held throughout the country. Other members of the executive branch include lieutenant governor, attorney general, and commissioners. Since each state’s executive branch looks a little different, all of the positions you read about may not be found in your state.

The purpose of the legislative branch is to create laws for a state. Every state, except Nebraska, has a bicameral legislature. That means the legislative branch is made up of two different houses. The names given to each house vary by state. In the Got It? section of this lesson, you will learn what the houses are called in your state.

The judicial branch is made up of different courts. The leader of the judicial branch is the state supreme court. The judicial branch tries cases, enforces laws, and upholds the state and federal constitutions. If there are questions surrounding a ruling made by a state supreme court, the case is sent to the U.S. Supreme Court to be tried.

Just like the federal government, each state government is made up of thousands of different people working together. Taking into account what you have just learned, discuss the following questions with your teacher or parent:

  • Why does each state have different branches?
  • Why do state governments model themselves after the federal government?
  • Why is state government important?

When you are finished discussing the questions, move on to the Got It? section to begin researching your state government.

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