Government Structure in the State of Massachusetts

The State of Massachusetts was one of the founding members of the United States of America and it joined the Union in 1788. Its capital is Boston. The state has a constitution which set the rules and regulations that govern the people of the state. This constitution however does not override the federal constitution. As any other form of government, the State of Massachusetts comprises of three levels of government these are: the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. The state government is headed by the Governor, who is responsible for the overall running of the state.

The head of the executive branch is the Governor, who is elected by the people in state elections held after four years and can serve a maximum of up to four terms (a governor elected for four terms consecutively serves for sixteen years). The functions of the governor are identical to that of the federal president, the only difference is that the governor’s jurisdiction is limited to the state. The Governor assumes the role of the State’s chief executive and head of the Massachusetts National Guard.

The official residence of the Governor is referred to as a State house (Levitan & Mariner, 1998). The Governor is responsible for coming up with the State budgetary estimates and has authority of appointing heads of the State departments. The Governor also is empowered by the state’s constitution to issue pardons to offenders who are considered less dangerous to the society, but this is done after consulting the Governor’s Council, which acts as an advisory body to the Governor. The council has a total of eight councilors who are elected after two years.

The Governor has the responsibility of choosing officers whom he/she deems fit to serve in the judiciary, with the approval of his advisory body. The Governor is assisted in the running of the state by a Leuitenent Governor who acts as his deputy. The administrative duties of the state are carried out by departments known as state departments. Such departments in the State of Massachusetts include: the department of revenue, department of education, department of state treasurer, department of food and agriculture among others.

Legislature The legislative functions of the State of Massachusetts, are performed by a body known as the General Court. The General Court is the one in charge of making laws and carrying out necessary amendments to the constitution when need arises. The General Court comprises the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Senate, headed by a president elected by the district senators, has 40 members, while the House has 160 representatives and is headed by the speaker.

The Senators are responsible for a large area of the state known as senate districts, while the representatives are in charge of a smaller population known as house districts. The General Court has the responsibility of confirming all the Governor’s appointments. Before a bill becomes law, it should be approved by the House of Representatives and then taken to the Senate. If the Senate approves it, the governor appends his signature to it and becomes part of the laws of the state.

However, if the governor does not assent to the bill, it is taken back to the General Court, where it must receive a two-thirds majority vote in both the Senate and the House of Representatives for the Governor ‘s decision to be overturned. Judiciary Once a bill becomes law, it is the state’s judiciary responsibility to ensure that it is enforced. Usually the state judiciary is made up of the Supreme Judicial Court and other lower courts which are responsibly for hearing of criminal and civil cases. The Supreme Judicial Court was founded in 1692, while Massachusetts was still under the protectorate of the British Empire.

The Supreme Judicial Court is the senior most court in the state and is made up of seven judges who includes: the chief justice and six associate justices, all of whom are appointed by the State Governor, with the approval by the Executive or the Governor’s Council and serve until they reach the maximum age of seventy (Levitan, 1998). Apart from being the court of last resort in the state, the supreme judicial court is also responsible for acting in an advisory capacity to other levels of government in matters relating to the interpretation of the state’s constitution and other laws.

The next court level is the appeals court, which is responsible for hearing cases from the lower courts, known as trial courts. These trial courts can only hear cases falling in their jurisdiction. Examples of the trial courts include: the juvenile court which deals with matters related to children and the Boston Municipal Court which hears both civil and criminal cases.

Reference Levitan, M. , & Mariner, E. (1984). Your Massachusetts government. Newton Centre Massachusetts: Government Research Publications.