The American Democracy, 10th Edition (Patterson)

Chapter 18: State and Local Politics: Maintaining Our Differences


bicameral legislatures  Legislatures having two chambers.
charter  The chief instrument by which a state governs its local units; it spells out in detail what a local government can and cannot do.
city manager system  The form of municipal government that entrusts the executive role to a professionally trained manager, who is chosen—and can be fired—by the city council.
commission system  The form of municipal government that invests executive and legislative authority in a commission, with each commissioner serving as a member of the local council but also having a specified executive role, such as police commissioner or public works commissioner.
constitutional initiative  The process by which a citizen or group can petition to place a proposed amendment on the ballot at the next election by obtaining the signatures of a certain number of registered voters; if the amendment gets majority support, it becomes part of the constitution.
Cooley’s rule  The term used to describe the idea that cities should be self-governing, articulated in an 1871 ruling by Michigan judge Thomas Cooley.
Dillon’s rule  The term used to describe relations between state and local governments; it holds that local governments are creatures of the state, which in theory even has the power to abolish them.
home rule  A device designed to give local governments more leeway in their policies; it allows a local government to design and amend its own charter, subject to the laws and constitution of the state and also subject to veto by the state.
initiative  The process by which citizens can place legislative measures on the ballot through signature petitions; if the measure receives a majority vote, it becomes law.
metropolitan government  The form of local government created when local governments join together and assign it responsibility for a range of activities, such as sanitation, so as to reduce the waste and duplication that result when every locality in a densely populated area provides its own services.
ordinances  Laws issued by a local government under authority granted by the state government.
police power  A term that refers to the broad power of government to regulate the health, safety, and morals of the citizenry.
recall  The process by which citizens can petition for the removal from office of an elected official before the scheduled completion of his or her term.
referendum  The process through which the legislature may submit proposals to the voters for approval or rejection.
state constitutional convention  A state convention convened to amend the state constitution or draft a new one.
strong mayor-council system  The most common form of municipal government, consisting of the mayor as chief executive and the local council as the legislative body, in which the mayor has veto power and a prescribed responsibility for budgetary and other policy actions.
weak mayor-council system  The form of municipal government in which the mayor’s policymaking powers are less substantial than the council’s; the mayor has no power to veto the council’s actions and often has no formal role in activities such as budget making.
Patterson Tenth Edition Large Cover
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