Comparison of the California government to other states

UPDATE: The state government of California is not unique among other states. The 50 states provide for some form of republican government in their individual constitutions. All states are based on the federal government with three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial.

Legislative branch

The California legislature is made up of two chambers: the State Assembly and the State Senate. The Assembly has 80 members elected every two years and the Senate has 40 members elected every four years. The maximum number of years that can be served is 12 years – either in a single house or combined. Majority vote is required for most laws, although a 2/3 majority vote is required for some measures, such as emergency clause bills and tax increases.

With one exception, all states are bicameral, and they all have upper and lower chambers of different sizes. For the lower house, half a dozen states offer 4-year terms, while the other states offer 2-year terms. The size of the houses varies from 42 to 400 members. For the upper house, a dozen states offer 2-year terms, while the other states offer 4-year terms. The size of the houses varies from 21 to 67 members. About 35 states do not have a time limit for maximum service. About 22 states have a simple majority voting requirement for all measures. The other states have a hybrid system requiring both simple majority and absolute majority votes for the measures envisaged.

Executive branch

The Governor of California is one of nine constitutional officers elected every four years. He or she can serve a maximum of two terms of 4 years. The lieutenant governor is elected separately and is limited to two terms of 4 years.

The governor is the chief executive in all 50 states. In two states, the term of office as governor is two years. In other states, it is a four-year term. About 16 states do not have a maximum term limit that a governor can serve, while the other states limit the number of terms to two. About half a dozen states do not have a lieutenant governor, while other states do.

Judicial branch

California’s judicial branch is made up of superior courts (trial courts), appellate courts (intermediate appellate courts), and the Supreme Court (the highest court). All judges of the courts of appeal are selected by the governor and confirmed by a separate body. The judges of the courts of first instance are elected; however, the governor appoints superior court judges to vacant positions. The Supreme Court has seven members. Appeals judges face “retention elections” every 12 years.

All states have a Supreme Court as the highest court in the state. Most states have seven seats on the High Court, the lowest at five and the highest at nine. Four states have life appointments, while the others use terms of six to fourteen years, with a majority at eight. About twenty states have a mandatory retirement age. About 20 states elect their high court judges, while the rest are appointed to their posts.

Bernard P. Love