Michigan is governed as a republic, with three branches of government: the executive branch consisting of the Governor of Michigan and the other independently elected constitutional officers; the legislative branch consisting of the House of Representatives and Senate; and the judicial branch consisting of the one court of justice. The state also allows direct participation of the electorate by initiative, referendum, recall, and ratification.
The Constitution of the State of Michigan is the governing document of the U.S. state of Michigan. It describes the structure and function of the state's government. The Constitution also accepts common law.
There have been four constitutions approved by the people of Michigan. The first was in 1835, written as Michigan was preparing to become a state of the Union, which occurred in 1837. The current constitution was approved by voters in 1963.
Michigan's executive branch is headed by the Governor. Elected with the Governor is the Lieutenant Governor. Constitutional elected executives are Attorney General and Secretary of State. The State Board of Education is elected every two years in groups of 2 for eight year terms.
The Governor has the powers and responsibilities to: sign or veto laws passed by the Legislature, including a line item veto; appoint judges, subject to ratification by the electorate; propose a state budget; give the annual State of the State address; sue other executives to comply with the law; command the state militia; and grant pardons for any crime, except cases involving impeachment by the Legislature.
The Lieutenant Governor is the President of the Michigan Senate and acts as the governor when the Governor is unable to execute the office, including whenever the Governor leaves the state.
Also constitutional created within the executive branch is the state transportation commission, director of the state transportation department, civil rights commission, a state treasurer and principal departments headed by the state treasurer, Attorney General and Secretary of State.
The 1963 Constitution requires that all permanent agencies or commissions, except universities, be assigned to one of a maximum of twenty departments. The Executive Branch of the State of Michigan has several Departments or agencies:
State of Michigan Departments
Michigan's state universities are immune from control by the legislature, many aspects of the executive branch, and cities in which they are located; but they are not immune from the authority of the courts. Some degree of political control is exercised as the legislature approves appropriations for the schools. Furthermore, the governor appoints the board of control of most state universities with the advice and consent of the state Senate. Only the board members of the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Wayne State University are chosen in general elections.
The Michigan Legislature is the state legislature of the U.S. state of Michigan. It is organized as a bicameral institution consisting of the Senate, the upper house, and the House of Representatives, the lower house. Article IV of the Michigan Constitution, adopted in 1963, defines the role of the legislature and how it is to be constituted. The Michigan Legislature meets in the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan.
The Michigan Court System consists of two courts with primary jurisdiction, one intermediate level appellate court, and a supreme court. There are several administrative courts and specialized courts.
The two primary courts are the District Court and the Circuit Court. The District Court hears cases involving less serious criminal offenses, while the Circuit Court hears the more serious criminal cases. In addition the Circuit Court is the appellate court for cases heard in the District Courts.
The Court of Appeals hears all appeals from the District Courts and the other lower level courts.
The Supreme Court hears appeals from the Court of Appeals and administers all of the courts.