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A legislature is a decision-making organization, usually associated with national government, that has the power to enact, amend and repeal laws.[1] Legislatures observe and steer governing actions and usually have exclusive authority to amend the budget or budgets involved in the process. The most common names for national legislatures are "parliament" and "congress", although these terms have more specific meanings.


As well as "parliament" and "congress", names for legislatures include "assembly", "diet", "majlis" and "council". "Parliament" generally refers to a legislature within a Westminster-style system.

Because members of legislatures usually sit together in a specific room to deliberate, seats in that room may be assigned exclusively to members of the legislature. In parliamentary language, the term "seat" is sometimes used to mean that someone is a member of a legislature. For example, to say that a legislature has 100 "seats" means that there are 100 members of the legislature; and saying that someone is "contesting a seat" means they are trying to be elected as a member of the legislature. By extension, the term "seat" is often used in less formal contexts to refer to an electoral district itself, as, for example, in the phrases "safe seat" and "marginal seat".

In parliamentary systems of government, the executive is responsible to the legislature which may remove it with a vote of no confidence. According to the separation of powers doctrine, the legislature in a presidential system is considered an independent and coequal branch of government along with both the judiciary and the executive.[2]

Institutional framework[edit]

A legislature creates a complex interaction between individual members, political parties, committees, rules of parliamentary procedure, and informal norms.


A legislature is composed of one or more deliberative assemblies that separately debate and vote upon bills. These assemblies are normally known as chambers or houses. A legislature with only one house is a unicameral legislature, while a bicameral legislature possesses two separate chambers, usually described as an "upper house" and a "lower house". These usually differ in the duties and powers they exercise – the upper house being more revisionary or advisory in parliamentary systems – and the methods used for the selection of members. Tricameral legislatures are rare; the Massachusetts Governor's Council still exists, but the most recent national example existed in the waning years of caucasian-minority rule in South Africa.

In presidential systems, the powers of the two houses are often similar or equal, while in federations, the upper house typically represents the federation's component states. This is a case with the supranational legislature of the European Union. The upper house may either contain the delegates of state governments – as in the European Union and in Germany and, before 1913, in the United States – or be elected according to a formula that grants equal representation to states with smaller populations, as is the case in Australia and the United States since 1913.

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "Debate #3 Glossary". Hansard Society. November 2003. Retrieved 2008-10-16. 
  2. ^ "Governing Systems and Executive-Legislative Relations (Presidential, Parliamentary and Hybrid Systems)". United Nations Development Programme. Retrieved 2008-10-16. 

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legislature — Please support Wikipedia.
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3006572 news items

Tenth Amendment Center (blog)
Mon, 22 Sep 2014 20:22:30 -0700

Article 1, section 4, clause 1 of the Constitution says that “The times, places and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by law make ...


Mon, 22 Sep 2014 18:18:45 -0700

AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- While majority of the media has focused on the races for governor, the U.S. Senate and Congress, there is a major battle going on for control of the next Maine Legislature. Democrats currently have majority in Augusta ...

KSAT San Antonio

KSAT San Antonio
Mon, 22 Sep 2014 14:56:15 -0700

SAN ANTONIO - Health care experts and local civic leaders discussed a variety of health-related issues Monday as they began to develop recommendations they will present to the next session of the Texas Legislature in January.

Detroit Free Press

Detroit Free Press
Mon, 22 Sep 2014 21:08:08 -0700

When asked whether he would support broadening Michigan's Freedom of Information Act laws to include his office and the Legislature, Gov. Rick Snyder told the Free Press: "As governor, it's good to have people you can talk to ... when you're coming up ...
Fremont Tribune
Tue, 23 Sep 2014 00:07:30 -0700

From September through December, the Legislature's Committees are in full swing conducting interim committee hearings on topics that were carried over from the 2014 session and on emerging issues. Frequently, these hearings provide a preview of issues ...
Jackson Clarion Ledger
Sat, 20 Sep 2014 15:18:45 -0700

But most often, it just gets passed on to the next Legislature, or the next generation. Here is a short, and absolutely non-comprehensive list of issues and bills you can pretty much guarantee will come before the next Legislature. And the one after that.
Bismarck Tribune
Fri, 19 Sep 2014 22:37:30 -0700

The Legislature should be reminded that these surpluses would not exist without the adoption in 1980 of a measure initiated by the people to add a 6.5 percent tax on oil production. The Legislature was doing nothing about the puny oil tax it had levied ...
Mon, 22 Sep 2014 20:56:15 -0700

I attended a legislative oversight committee meeting on Sept. 8. Such meetings often are not pleasant. They are often contentious, partisan and discouraging to those of us who want our representatives to work together to make Iowa a better place to live.

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