Washington’s state constitution was adopted in 1889, at the time of statehood. Amendments to the constitution are adopted with the approval of a two-thirds vote of the membership of each house of the state legislature and by a majority of the electorate. Proposed amendments may also be drawn up by a constitutional convention. Convention proposals must be ratified by the public. Provisions for initiative, referendum, and recall are the most important amendments to the constitution. They were adopted in 1912.
The state’s chief executive officer is the governor, who is elected to a four-year term. The governor is responsible for preparing the state budget and appointing the directors of the administrative departments of the state government, and members of the numerous state boards and commissions.
The governor may veto proposed legislation, as well as individual items of appropriations bills passed by the state legislature. However, the legislators can override a veto by a vote of two-thirds of the members of each house. Other elected officials in the executive branch are the lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, state treasurer, state auditor, superintendent of public instruction, insurance commissioner, and commissioner of public lands. All serve four-year terms.
Washington’s state legislature consists of a Senate of 49 members and a House of Representatives of 98 members. Senators are elected to four-year terms, and representatives are elected to two-year terms. Regular sessions of the legislature are held beginning on the second Monday in January. In addition, the governor may convene special legislative sessions.
The highest state court in Washington is the Supreme Court. Its judges are each elected to a six-year term on a nonpartisan ballot. A court of appeals hears appeals arising from the principal courts of original jurisdiction, the superior courts. Lower state courts include justice-of-the-peace courts and municipal courts. Superior court judges and judges on lesser courts are elected to four-year terms on nonpartisan ballots.
Most of Washington’s 39 counties are governed by three-member boards of county commissioners, elected to four-year terms. Counties adopting home rule charters are governed by elected county councils and a county manager or executive. Other elected county officials include the assessor, auditor, clerk, treasurer, sheriff, and prosecuting attorney. Most of Washington’s cities and towns are governed under the mayor and city council form of municipal government. However, a number of larger cities have the council and city manager form of municipal government. "Washington" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.
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