U. S. Government: Democracy In Action

Chapter 23: Structure and Function of State Government

Student Web Activity

"State Constitutions"

In this chapter you have learned about the importance and functions of state constitutions, the three branches of state governments, how states write and enforce public policy, and how states raise revenue. In this activity you will make an in-depth exploration of state constitutions.

Destination Title: Full-Text State Statutes and Legislation on the Internet

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Start at Prairienet's Web site listing of state constitutions.

  • Scroll down the list, and choose either your own state or another state.
  • Familiarize yourself with that state's constitution, taking notes as you read.

After you have read through the information, answer the following questions.

Does the state constitution contain a bill of rights or declaration of rights? In what ways is it similar to or different from the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution?
Find the part of the state's constitution that discusses its legislative branch. What qualifications does a person need in order to be elected to a position in this branch? What are the term limits for these positions?
According to the constitution of the state you have chosen, who is the head of the executive branch? What qualifications are required? What are this person's primary responsibilities as expressed in the constitution?
Have there been any amendments made to the state's constitution? Briefly describe the amendments.
Now that you are sufficiently familiar with the constitution of your chosen state, you will be able to compare it to the Constitution of the United States. (There is a copy of the U.S. Constitution in your textbook.) You do not need to read the documents word for word, but by skimming the two documents you should be able to find similarities and differences. Draw a line down a separate piece of paper and label the two columns "Similarities" and "Differences." Under each heading, write as many similarities and differences between the two constitutions as you can—at least five in each column.
US Government: Democracy In Action
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