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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.

List of Legislatures[edit]

Some legislatures are known simply as the Legislature, including:



Country Body Type
 Guam Legislature of Guam Unicameral
 Liberia Legislature of Liberia Bicameral
 Marshall Islands Legislature of the Marshall Islands Unicameral
 Northern Mariana Islands Northern Mariana Islands Commonwealth Legislature Bicameral
 South Sudan National Legislature Bicameral
 Sudan National Legislature Bicameral
 U.S. Virgin Islands Legislature of the Virgin Islands Unicameral


Country Region Body Type
 India Andhra Pradesh Andhra Pradesh Legislature Bicameral
 India Bihar Bihar Legislature Bicameral
 India Jammu and Kashmir Jammu and Kashmir Legislature Bicameral
 India Karnataka Karnataka Legislature Bicameral
 India Kerala Kerala Legislature Unicameral
 India Tamil Nadu Tamil Nadu Legislature Unicameral
 India Uttar Pradesh Uttar Pradesh Legislature Bicameral
 South Africa Eastern Cape Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature Unicameral
 South Africa Free State Free State Legislature Unicameral
 South Africa Gauteng Gauteng Provincial Legislature Unicameral
 South Africa KwaZulu-Natal KwaZulu-Natal Legislature Unicameral
 South Africa Limpopo Limpopo Legislature Unicameral
 South Africa Mpumalanga Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature Unicameral
 South Africa North West North West Provincial Legislature Unicameral
 South Africa Northern Cape Northern Cape Provincial Legislature Unicameral
 United States Alabama Alabama Legislature Bicameral
 United States Alaska Alaska Legislature Bicameral
 United States Arizona Arizona State Legislature Bicameral
 United States California California State Legislature Bicameral
 United States Florida Florida Legislature Bicameral
 United States Hawaii Hawaii State Legislature Bicameral
 United States Idaho Idaho Legislature Bicameral
 United States Kansas Kansas Legislature Bicameral
 United States Louisiana Louisiana State Legislature Bicameral
 United States Maine Maine Legislature Bicameral
 United States Michigan Michigan Legislature Bicameral
 United States Minnesota Minnesota Legislature Bicameral
 United States Mississippi Mississippi Legislature Bicameral
 United States Montana Montana Legislature Bicameral
 United States Nebraska Nebraska Legislature Unicameral
 United States Nevada Nevada Legislature Bicameral
 United States New Jersey New Jersey Legislature Bicameral
 United States New Mexico New Mexico Legislature Bicameral
 United States New York New York State Legislature Bicameral
 United States Oklahoma Oklahoma Legislature Bicameral
 United States South Dakota South Dakota Legislature Bicameral
 United States Texas Texas Legislature Bicameral
 United States Utah Utah State Legislature Bicameral
 United States Washington Washington State Legislature Bicameral
 United States West Virginia West Virginia Legislature Bicameral
 United States Wisconsin Wisconsin Legislature Bicameral
 United States Wyoming Wyoming Legislature Bicameral



Country Body Type
 Burma Legislature Bicameral
 British Guiana Legislature Bicameral
 Kingdom of Hawaii Legislature of the Kingdom of Hawaii Bicameral/unicameral
   Nepal Interim legislature of Nepal Unicameral
 Philippines Philippine Legislature Bicameral


Country Region Body Type
 United States Arizona Territory Arizona Territorial Legislature Bicameral
 United States Oklahoma Territory Oklahoma Territorial Legislature Bicameral
 United States Oregon Territory Oregon Territorial Legislature Bicameral

See also[edit]


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