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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. 

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2021114 news items

New York Daily News

Sacramento Bee
Tue, 26 Aug 2014 16:35:33 -0700

The Legislature's history has always been intertwined with liquor. Indeed, its very first session in San Jose 164 years ago was dubbed the “Legislature of a Thousand Drinks” because a state senator from Sacramento who hoped to become commandant of the ...
Auburn Citizen
Tue, 26 Aug 2014 18:36:06 -0700

AUBURN | No matter what topic of contention the Legislature addressed, the same concern arose: Cayuga County's budget woes. Throughout the Legislature's full monthly meeting Tuesday evening, lawmakers repeatedly referenced and debated the ...

Great Lakes Echo

Detroit Free Press
Tue, 26 Aug 2014 15:05:45 -0700

LANSING — When the Legislature considers a proposal today that would maintain a wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula, it would be the fourth time in two years that it has taken an issue away from being decided by a statewide vote of the people.

The Star Online

Los Angeles Times
Wed, 27 Aug 2014 15:30:00 -0700

"Because of that technology ... it's incumbent upon [the Legislature] to make sure we lay down a basic framework [and] guidelines for government to use these when they're monitoring human behavior," Gorell said in an interview Wednesday. The bill ...
Washington Times
Wed, 27 Aug 2014 11:56:15 -0700

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - In a story Aug. 22 about firearm safety bills, The Associated Press reported erroneously that SB505 would require law enforcement officers to check California's gun database when conducting welfare checks on individuals. In ...

Breitbart News

Breitbart News
Tue, 26 Aug 2014 18:25:23 -0700

Before he addressed the California State Legislature, Peña Nieto said, "I believe that most of you speak Spanish." He then said since he speaks "better Spanish than English," he would begin his address in Spanish. Peña Nieto thanked Gov. Jerry Brown ...

Hollywood Reporter

Hollywood Reporter
Wed, 27 Aug 2014 10:30:35 -0700

"I'm grateful to the governor and the legislature for this important measure to protect and expand an industry that is integral to our economy and our identity," said L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti in a statement, later adding: "The heart and soul of the ...
Sacramento Bee
Mon, 25 Aug 2014 19:03:45 -0700

The most prominent of the nearly 400 bills remaining on the Legislature's agenda are of the other variety, pitting interest groups against one another. California will not rise or fall on whether some milk prices are deregulated or Uber and other ride ...

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