Michigan is governed under a revised constitution that went into effect in 1964. Three earlier constitutions had been adopted, in 1835, 1850, and 1908. An amendment to the constitution may be proposed by a two-thirds vote of the legislature, by a constitutional convention, or by initiative of the voters. To be ratified, an amendment must be approved by a majority of the people voting on the issue in an election.
The governor and lieutenant governor are elected as a team on the same ballot and serve for four years. The secretary of state and attorney general are also elected for four-year terms. The treasurer, auditor general, superintendent of public instruction, and head of the highway commission are appointed by the governor.
The departments of the executive branch of state government underwent major change in the mid-1990s. A Department of Environmental Quality was created; a Department of Community Health was formed from the former public health and mental health departments and the Medicaid program formerly in the Department of Social Services; the Department of Social Services is now called the Family Independence Agency; and the Michigan Jobs Commission was formed from units of the education, commerce, labor, and social services departments.
The legislature, which meets annually in Lansing, consists of a Senate with 38 members, who are elected for four years, and a House of Representatives with 110 members, who are elected for two years.
Representation in the house is based on population. Formerly the senate was apportioned under a formula allowing for representation partially on the basis of area, as well a population. However, at present the districts for each chamber are drawn solely on the basis of population.
The judicial system is headed by a seven-member supreme court. Members are popularly elected to eight-year terms; one of the judges is elected by the court to serve a two-year term as chief justice. The state’s intermediate appellate court, the court of appeals, consists of 24 popularly elected judges. Michigan has been divided into judicial districts, each with a circuit court, which acts as the primary criminal trial court. Other courts include county probate courts and a statewide system of district courts, which has replaced justices of the peace and most municipal courts. All judges are elected on a nonpartisan ballot.
Michigan is divided into 83 counties, which are governed by boards of commissioners. Members of the boards are selected by the towns and cities they represent. Some cities elect their county representatives and other cities appoint them. Any county or municipality may adopt a charter for home rule. Some cities, including Detroit, have the mayor and city council form of municipal government, and other cities in Michigan are governed by city managers. "Michigan" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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