Frequently asked questions

Welcome to the Michigan House Democrats' Web site! Your community, your state and your federal governments aren't things that happen to you or around you. They are things that happen with you. It is important that you feel connected to your state government.

The intent of this page is to provide you with basic information about state government, including the three branches of state government, how a bill becomes a law, how House committees work, and a list of political terms and definitions.

Below, you will find a list of Frequently Asked Questions. If you have a question or concern that is not addressed here, please feel free to contact us at (517) 373-8292 or by e-mail at housedems@house.mi.gov.

Q. What are the three branches of government?
A.

Executive Branch

In addition to the Governor and Lieutenant Governor, Michigan's voters elect two other executive branch officials statewide: the Secretary of State and the Attorney General. While candidates for the Governor's office are chosen in the August primary election, candidates for the others are nominated between presidential elections (voters cast one vote jointly for Governor and Lieutenant Governor). An amendment to the State Constitution adopted by the voters in 1992 limits these elected executives to two terms of four years each. This limitation applies to terms if office beginning on or after January 1, 1993.

The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is the highest court in the state, hearing cases appealed to it from the Court of Appeals. In addition to its judicial duties, the Supreme Court is responsible for the general administrative supervision of all courts in the state. The Supreme Court also establishes rules for practice and procedure in all courts. The Supreme Court consists of seven Justices, including the Chief Justice.

Legislative Branch

The legislative power of the State of Michigan is vested in a bicameral (2-chamber) body comprised of a Senate and a House of Representatives.

The Senate consists of 38 members who are elected by the qualified electors of districts having approximately 212,400 to 263,500 residents. Senators are elected at the same time as the Governor and serve four-year terms concurrent with the Governor's term of office. Terms for Senators begin on January 1, following the November general election.

The House of Representatives consists of 110 members who are elected by the qualified electors of districts having approximately 77,000 to 91,000 residents. Representatives are elected in even-numbered years to two-year terms. Legislative districts are drawn on the basis of population figures obtained through the federal decennial Census.

The state Legislature enacts the laws of Michigan; levies taxes and appropriates funds from money collected for the support of public institutions and the administration of the affairs of state government; proposes amendments to the state Constitution, which must be approved by a majority vote of the electors; and considers legislation proposed by initiatory petitions. The legislature also provides oversight of the executive branch of government through the administrative rules and audit processes, committees and the budget process; advises and consents, through the Senate, on gubernatorial appointments; and considers proposed amendments to the Constitution of the United States.

The majority of the Legislature's work, however, entails lawmaking. Through a process defined by the state Constitution, statute, and legislative rules, the Legislature considers thousands of bills (proposed laws) during each two-year session. Check out the Michigan State Legislature online for more information.

✭ State of Michigan
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