From the creation of our country’s first national bank to the modern controversy over Obamacare, disputes between state and Federal power have defined American politics. Each US state has a sophisticated, organized government that possesses broad powers, but must contend with Federal influence. No understanding of American governance is complete without detailed knowledge of the structure and power of state governments.
State Government Structure
The structure of most state governments closely resembles that of the Federal government. Governments are divided into three branches, namely:
Though states share the basic structure of the Federal government, the specific powers of each branch of government differ from state to state. For example, some states limit their legislatures’ powers by requiring a supermajority to raise taxes; others allow taxes to be raised by a simple majority vote. State constitutions may change more frequently than the Federal constitution, especially in states where one party is dominant.
Under the 10th Amendment to the United States Constitution, any powers that the Federal government does not have belong to the states or to the people. This gives states a myriad of powers and responsibilities, including:
Although state governments have broad powers over their citizens, they are subject to a number of limitations. They are not allowed to declare war, issue their own currencies, sign treaties with foreign countries, or place tariffs on international or interstate trade. Each state must also respect the right of other states, notably by recognizing their public acts and records, granting their citizens full rights and privileges, and cooperating with their police forces during criminal investigations. Multiple states cannot sign agreements with each other that affect the Federal government unless they have congressional approval to do so. State policies that violate these limitations may be ruled unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court.
Federal Funding Power
In addition to formal constitutional limits on state power, the Federal government can also influence state activities by:
The Federal government’s power to restrict or expand state funding comes with a catch: Congress cannot set unfunded mandates. In other words, if the Federal government requires states to adopt new policies, it must provide them with the money to do so. This produces some degree of equilibrium between state and national power. States may not be able to pass up congressional funding, but Congress must be willing to offer funding whenever it tries to regulate the states.
http://study.com/academy/lesson/what-is-state-government-powers-responsibilities-challenges.html; https://www.whitehouse.gov/1600/state-and-local-government; https://votesmart.org/education/states#.WK3IsaNOrR0; http://sparkcharts.sparknotes.com/history/usgovernment/section2.php; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r161cLYzuDI; https://www.voteopolis.com/blogsdashboard/Index/2074-2074-to-repeal-the-patient-protection-and-affordable-care-act-and-the-health-care-and-education-reconciliation-act-of-2010; https://www.voteopolis.com/blogsdashboard/Index/2066-2066-medicaid-matters-understanding-the-limits-of-the-affordable-care-act; http://www.forbes.com/sites/taxanalysts/2015/08/05/supermajority-requirements-for-raising-taxes-aretroublesome/#1c21aeb1433f; http://nebraskalegislature.gov; https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/tenth_amendment; http://www.nbcnews.com/card/why-do-maine-nebraska-split-their-electoral-votes-n679226; http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-healthcare-coverage-20140406-dto-htmlstory.html;Return | Legislation 101 | Committees | Voteopolis Integration | Lobbyists | Federal vs States | Constitutional Amendments