GOVERNMENT 101

Our government exists to secure the God-given, unalienable rights of the people…not to grant those rights or take them away.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

-Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

The Federal Government governs all 50 states, and its powers are defined by the U.S. Constitution.

STATE GOVERNMENT

Per the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, all powers not granted to the Federal Government are reserved for the states and the people.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Local Government, including Counties, Cities, and Townships, derive their powers from their State constitution and State laws.

BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT

The U.S. Constitution divides the Federal Government into three branches to limit the power of any one group. So to, our State Governments follow the same three-branch model.

BRANCHES OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

EXECUTIVE BRANCH

The Executive Branch carries out the law. This branch is headed by the President of the United States (POTUS) and includes the Vice President, Executive Cabinet, and most federal agencies.

LEGISLATIVE BRANCH

The Legislative Branch makes laws. This branch is made up of the House of Representatives (congressmen, representing state districts of approximately 700,000 citizens) and the Senate (Two senators for every state).

JUDICIAL BRANCH

The Judicial Branch evaluates laws, applies law to court cases, and determines if laws violate the U.S. Constitution. This branch is comprised of the federal courts and is headed by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS).

BRANCHES OF STATE GOVERNMENT

STATE EXECUTIVE BRANCH

The State Executive Branch carries out the law. This branch is headed by a Governor, and includes the Lieutenant Governor, the Attorney General (AG), the Secretary of State (SOS), and more.

STATE LEGISLATIVE BRANCH

The State Legislative Branch considers matters brought forth by the Governor and creates legislation that becomes law. The Oregon’s State Legislature is made up of 30 State Senators, each representing approximately 127,000 residents, and 60 State Representatives, representing approximately 70,000 residents.

STATE JUDICIAL BRANCH

The State Judicial Branch interprets and applies law through courts that are established by the State’s constitution and laws. A State Supreme Court is the highest power of the branch.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT STRUCTURE

COUNTY GOVERNANCE

Jackson County, Oregon is governed by an elected three-person Board of Commissioners (BOC). They make county ordinances, which are enforceable by law. The county’s District Attorney’s Office handles prosecutions brought forth by the local government, and an elected sheriff heads up law enforcement at the county level.

CITY GOVERNANCE

Cities in Oregon often operated within a three-branch structure. A mayor or city manager occupies the executive branch, a city council functions as a legislative branch, and the municipal court is the judiciary.

CITIZENS IN LOCAL GOVERNANCE

The role of citizens in local government cannot be overstated. Not only do they choose local leaders through elections, they can serve on county and city boards and advisory panels, helping shape their community.