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the reallocation of seats in a legislative assembly


the process of creatively designing a legistlative district, usually to enhance the electoral fortunes of the party in power.


landmark supreme court case in which the court said that reapportionment is not a political question, and can be reviewed by the court, thus making reynolds v. simms possible

Baker v. Carr

ruled that state legislature districts had to be roughly equal in population. Established the principle of "one person, one vote."

Reynolds v. Sims

a legislator who functions as a conduit for his constituency opinion


a legislator who votes according to his or her conscience and best judgment


a legislator who functions as either a delegate or a trustee as circumstances dictate


perfunctory duties, record keeping and election responsibilities, maintains state archives, registers drivers' licenses, files agency rules, etc.

Secretary of State

The state's chief legal cousel, renders formal written opinions on legal issues which have the force of law unless they are successfully challenged in the courtroom.

Attorney General

the administrative branch of government, consisting of all executive offices and their workers.


the ability of public employees to make decisions interpreting law and administrative regulations

Bureaucratic discretion

the concept that public employees should perform their duties competently and without regard for political considerations

Neutral Competence

The organization of government personnel to provide for hiring and promotion on the basis of knowledge skills and abilities rather than patronage or other influences

Merit System

Special effort to recruit, hire and promote members of disadvantaged groups to eliminate the effects of past discrimination

Affirmative Action

a formal arrangement in which representatives of labor and management negotiate wages, benefits, and working conditions.

Collective bargaining

A system in which more than one member of the executive branch is popularly elected on a statewide ballot. Ex) in VA, you vote separately for governor, attorney general, lt. governor

Plural Executive

preparation, formulation, adoption, execution and audit

Budget Cycle

a budget that plans large expenditures for long term investments such as buildings and highways

Capital Budget

a decision making approach in the budgetary process in which last years appropriations are used as a base for this years budget figures


statutes that set automatic expiration dates for specified agencies and other organizations

sunset laws

Powers of the governor derived from the state constitution or statute

Formal powers of governors

powers of the governor not derived from the consitutional or statutory law

Informal powers of governors

a rule, regulation, or policy issued unilaterally by the governor to change executive branch operations or activities

exectutive order

The governors formal power to veto separate items in a bill instead of the entire piece of proposed legislation

Line Item Veto

The use of information technology to simplify and improve interactions between governments and citizens, firms, public employees, and other entities


Starting in the 1990's most states set up term limits for their legislators, but not on federal legislators.

Term Limits

Statutes that open the meetings of governmental bodies to the public

Open Meeting Laws

Unwritten law based on tradition, custom or court decisions

Common Law

Negotiation between a prosecutor and a criminal defendents counsel that results in the defendent pleading guilty to a lesser charge or pleading guilty in exchange for a reduced sentence.

Plea Bargaining

Legislation election in two states (SC and VA), popular election, 87% of states, through a partisan or non partisan election but there is a very small voter turnout. Merit Plan including a judicial nominating commission which puts up names of which the governor appoints the preferred candidate and finally a retention election is held after one or two years in which a popular vote is taken on whether or not the judge should stay on the bench.

Selection of Judges

limited jurisdiction trial courts (those courts with original jurisdiction over specialized cases such as juvenile offenses or traffic violations.

hierarchy of courts

courts of general jurisdiction that handle criminal and civil cases

Major Trial Courts

a state appellate court that relieves the case burden on the supreme court by hearing certain types of appeals

intermediate appellate courts

the highest state court, beyond which there is no appeal except in cases involving federal law

supreme court

judges making of public policy through decisions that overturn existing law or effectively make new laws.

judicial activism

a case that concerns a grievance involving individuals or organizations, not the breaking of a law.

civil case

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