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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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3017290 news items

Scranton Times-Tribune
Thu, 24 Jul 2014 21:18:45 -0700

Even though Scranton's government is close to bankruptcy and can't borrow, the state Legislature and Gov. Tom Corbett have emulated its methods. The benighted city council in office in June 2012 vastly accelerated the city's descent into financial ruin ...
Thu, 24 Jul 2014 09:33:39 -0700

Pat McCrory made an unusual visit to the legislature Thursday to "touch base" with House and Senate lawmakers as the budget stalemate drags on. McCrory, for reasons that remain unclear, tried to cut through a meeting room rather than using the hallway.
Detroit Free Press
Thu, 24 Jul 2014 11:46:01 -0700

If the Legislature passes the initiative — and they've already voted twice in the past two years to support a hunt — it automatically becomes law. If they reject it or do nothing, the initiative will appear on the November ballot along with two other ...
Wed, 23 Jul 2014 19:48:45 -0700

A Granby town meeting vote requesting the state Legislature to approve a home rule petition -- that would have allowed about 140 residents along Route 116 to withdraw from the fire protection services provided by the neighboring South Hadley fire ...
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 03:41:15 -0700

The House speaker promised that the decisions by the legislature to reform the country oil sector will go as planned and if there is any new development of the country's oil sector, that development will be disclosed to the public at the appropriate time.


Thu, 24 Jul 2014 14:00:00 -0700

George Meros, an attorney for the Republican-led Florida House of Representatives, said the Legislature “fully intends” to draw new districts. The task would only take a few weeks, he added. “On a clean slate, the Legislature can act promptly,” Meros said.

Voice of America

Voice of America
Thu, 24 Jul 2014 14:00:00 -0700

YANGON —. The lower house of parliament in Myanmar, also known as Burma, has agreed to discuss a controversial proposal to switch to proportional representation for future elections. The proportional representation system was first proposed by the ...
Thu, 24 Jul 2014 13:26:15 -0700

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