The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, a set of laws drawn up by the people of Windsor, Hartford, and Wethersfield in 1639, served as the colony’s first constitution. In 1662 Connecticut received a royal charter. In 1818 the state adopted a new constitution. The state’s present constitution was adopted in 1965. To become a law, a proposed constitutional amendment must receive at least a three-fourths majority vote in both houses of the state legislature or be approved by a majority in both houses in two consecutive legislative sessions and must be approved by a majority of voters.
The executive branch of the state government is headed by a governor, who is elected for a term of four years. The governor appoints most state department heads and commissioners and also nominates judges for the higher courts of the state. Other members of the executive branch are the lieutenant governor, secretary of the state, treasurer, comptroller, and attorney general, who are elected for four-year terms.
The General Assembly, as the state legislature is called, consists of a Senate and House of Representatives. Members of both houses are elected for two-year terms. The General Assembly meets in Hartford every year. It may also be convened in special session, which may be called by the governor or a majority of each chamber of the assembly.
The highest court in the state is the supreme court, which is solely a court of appeal. A chief justice and six associate justices, who are appointed for eight-year terms, sit on the supreme court. The state’s trial court is the superior court, to which judges are appointed for eight-year terms. Under a 1976 law, the common pleas and juvenile courts were merged into the superior court.
Connecticut’s local government units are called towns, although, as in New England generally, they are quite similar to townships elsewhere in the nation and may include several incorporated and unincorporated communities. The towns have different forms of local government. Most of the small towns are governed by selectmen, elected by the towns’ voters, who assemble annually to act on town affairs; the first selectman is the chief administrative officer. Some of the larger towns and cities have adopted the council and town or city manager form of administration. Other large towns and cities are governed by mayors and councils or boards of aldermen. The principle of home rule is very strong in Connecticut towns with each community tightly controlling land use, education, and police. This has led to a resistance to regional government, particularly since the abolishment of county government in 1960. The eight counties are still recognized as geographical divisions of the state by the federal government and the state court system. Connecticut elects two U.S. senators and five members of the U.S. House of Representatives. In presidential elections the state has seven electoral votes. "Connecticut" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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