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A legislature is the law-making body of a political unit, usually a national government, that has power to enact, amend, and repeal public policy. Laws enacted by legislatures are known as legislation. 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". The members of a legislature are called legislators.


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.[1]

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. In the United States the legislative branch is split into the Senate and the House of Representatives.

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legislature — Please support Wikipedia.
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Dallas Morning News

Dallas Morning News
Fri, 22 May 2015 17:09:40 -0700

Barring any further maneuvering in the Legislature's final days, it appears that the high-speed rail proposal could emerge from the session unscathed. The plan to create a privately funded 90-minute train ride between Dallas and Houston has drawn ...

New York Times

New York Times
Wed, 20 May 2015 10:00:29 -0700

The Nebraska Legislature on Wednesday voted, 32 to 15, to abolish the death penalty, setting up a final showdown between a bipartisan coalition that supported the bill and the Republican governor, who has promised to veto it. No conservative state has ...

Minneapolis Star Tribune

Minneapolis Star Tribune
Fri, 22 May 2015 15:44:29 -0700

Given a $2 billion budget surplus, most believed that the Legislature would be able to work with Gov. Mark Dayton and finish on time. Unfortunately, the Republican majority chose to send us into a special session over their unwillingness to compromise ...
Los Angeles Times
Fri, 22 May 2015 20:11:15 -0700

California lawmakers advanced a measure that would require workers in day-care centers to be vaccinated as part of an effort to protect children from preventable diseases such as measles. Lawmakers also acted on proposals to expand carpooling, ban ...

Minneapolis Star Tribune

Minneapolis Star Tribune
Fri, 22 May 2015 15:44:29 -0700

However, the governor's refusal to move away from universal prekindergarten this session — despite the plan's failure to be adopted by either body in the Legislature and despite a number of immediate logistical problems for our schools — made us ...
Rutland Herald
Fri, 22 May 2015 23:56:15 -0700

Today, in a move prompted by the desire to save money and improve legislating opportunities, Vermonters called for legislative consolidation that could lead to the formation of one state Legislature for all of northern New England. As one citizen ...

Washington Times

Fri, 22 May 2015 12:43:03 -0700

Despite fierce opposition among Republicans to increasing debt backed by the state, the Legislature also managed to pass two separate $25 million bond proposals to pay for museums — one in Oklahoma City and one in Tulsa. The House's approval on ...

Washington Times

Washington Times
Fri, 22 May 2015 22:48:45 -0700

Nevada Assembly Republicans, from left, Shelly Shelton, Glenn Trowbridge, Brent Jones, Jill Dickman, Victoria Seaman and Victoria Dooling talk on the Assembly floor at the Legislative Building in Carson City, Nev., on Friday, May 22, 2015. Lawmakers ...

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