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The Law of American State Constitutions$
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Robert F. Williams

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195343083

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195343083.001.0001

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The State Legislative Branch

The State Legislative Branch

The Law of American State Constitutions

Robert F. Williams

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the fact that state constitutions create a legislative branch that is substantially different from the federal Congress. Most importantly, state legislatures exercise reserved, plenary power subject only to limitations in the state or federal Constitutions. The federal Congress, by contrast, exercises enumerated, delegated power. In addition, the state legislatures are subject to a variety of limitations on the process of lawmaking that are contained in state constitutions. The chapter discusses the variety of approaches to judicial enforcement of these procedural limitations. Finally, in a number of states, the state legislature's lawmaking power is shared with the people, who can enact or defeat laws through direct democracy, or the initiative and referendum processes.

Keywords:   state legislature, plenary power, procedural limitations, judicial enforcement, direct democracy, initiative, referendum, enumerated power

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