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Washington State Government and Courts

Three branches of government are established in the state constitution.  The power to make law is reserved to the people through the initiative and referendum powers, but otherwise the legislative power is vested in the legislature.  Forty nine legislative districts, each of approximately equal population, are served by on senator and two representatives.  The legislature meets annually, for 105 days in the odd numbered years and 60 days in the even numbered years.

The executive power of the state is vested in the governor and seven other state-wide elected officials.  The lieutenant governor presides over the senate and serves in the governor's absence.  The secretary of state maintains the official records of the state, supervises elections and maintains the registrations of business entities.  The attorney general is responsible for the legal affairs of the state.  The state treasurer manages the funds of the state.  The state auditor monitor the use of public funds.  The commissioner of public lands is the steward of state lands, parks and forest trust lands. The insurance commissioner is tasked with regulating the business of insurance.

The judicial power is vested in the supreme court and the court of appeals.  The supreme court consists of nine justices sit in the Temple of Justice in Olympia.  They sit as a panel to hear cases, some filed directly with them, but most being appealed from a lower court.  The court of appeals is constituted in three divisions: Division I in Seattle, 10 judges; Division II in Tacoma, 7 judges; and Division III in Spokane, five judges.  Three judges sit on each case.  The right to appeal from a decision of a trial court is the right to appeal to the court of appeals in most cases.  The trial courts--superior, district and municipal--are discussed under Local Law and Government.

The state web site Access Washington is the portal to all state government.  However, the legislature, each of the state-wide elected officials, and each of the courts have individual web sites.  The Resources below link you to the portals for each branch.

The constitution may be found in the Resource list under State Law.

Resource Links

By: editor1
Last Updated: December 20, 2011 - 10:21pm

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