Every State is Unique!
What state do you live in? Do you know much about it? What makes it special?
Every state is different. Each state has its own flag, its own symbols, and even its own shape! States have different sizes, different animals and plants, and even different climates.
Some states have been states since the beginning, others are much newer. Some are home to TONS of people, while others have smaller populations.
Follow the link. On the site, scroll down and click on the name of your state.
Wait… What? Didn’t we just learn that every state is unique?
States are different in many ways, but there are some things that all states have in common. For one thing, they are all part of the United States!
But that’s not all. Follow the link to learn some basics about state governments.
States have the power to make laws about lots of things. They get this power from the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Here’s what it says:
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
This means states share lawmaking power with the federal government. The Constitution gives the federal government the power to make laws about certain things. But anything else? States can go for it! (As long as they don’t violate people’s constitutional rights.)
There are even some kinds of laws both states and the federal government can pass. But beware: If both a state and the federal government have a law about the same thing, the federal government’s law is supreme.
Follow the links below to explore two kinds of laws your state might have.
States can’t make laws without lawmakers, right?
Every state has a group of lawmakers called a legislature. In most states, the legislature if made up of two parts just like the U.S. Congress. In most states, the two parts are even called by the same names as the U.S. Congress — the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Follow the link to see a list of state legislature websites. Click on your state to go to your state legislature’s site.
It takes a lot to run a society. Think about it: People need transportation that works, education for the future, police to keep law and order, emergency responders when disaster strikes, water and electricity to run their homes and businesses… and many other important things!
States are involved in all these areas of life and more.
Follow the link and choose your state from the drop-down box. On the next page, find your state’s “Official Name” and click it. This should take you to your state’s website.
States don’t just pass laws. States also carry out many laws passed by the federal government. Often these laws create benefit programs for citizens or make rules about safety. State governments are closer to citizens than the federal government is, so it can make sense for states work directly with citizens and businesses to make the program happen.
In addition, states and the federal government often form partnerships to deal with specific issues. For example, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration partners with state agencies to inspect certain kinds of foods and make sure they’re safe.
Follow the link to learn about a federal-state partnership working to address an important problem!
Every state has one leader. That person is called the governor! Do you know who your state’s leader is? Any idea what he or she has been up to lately?
Follow the link and choose your state from the drop-down menu. On the next page, find your governor’s name and click it. That should take you to your governor’s website.
Yep, your state has its own courts. And just like the United States has the U.S. Supreme Court, your state also has one court that has the final say over all the other state courts.
Follow the link and click the letter that your state’s name begins with. Find your state in the list. Find the link to your state’s highest court.
(If you’re not sure what your state’s highest court is called, you might have to start with the main court or judicial branch website to find out!)
The United States is a democracy. That means citizens — people — hold the power! You’ve heard of voting, right? In our democracy, citizens exercise their power by voting to elect people to represent them in government.
The representatives citizens elect are the people who do the actual work of government. These are the people who make decisions for all of us!
Every state is a democracy, too. State citizens vote for people to represent them in the state’s government. Your state representatives make decisions that affect everyone in the state — including YOU!
Follow the link. On the page, click the 2014 General election.