Branches of Government
The Connecticut State Government is made up of three separate branches: executive, legislative and judicial. Each branch has separate and independent powers and areas of responsibility so that no branch has more power than the other branches.
In Connecticut, the executive branch is headed by a governor, who is directly elected by the people. The other leaders in the executive branch are also directly elected, including the lieutenant governor, the attorney general, the secretary of state, auditors and commissioners. The executive branch oversees state agencies, sets the political agenda for the following year and helps assure that laws are carried out across the state.
Every state has legislatures made up of elected representatives, who consider matters presented by the governor or introduced by its members to create legislation that becomes law. The legislature also approves a state's budget and initiates tax legislation and articles of impeachment. The latter is part of a system of checks and balances among the three branches of government that mirrors the federal system and prevents any branch from abusing its power.
Connecticut has a bicameral legislature made up of two chambers: a smaller upper house and a larger lower house. Together, the two chambers make state laws and fulfill other governing responsibilities. The smaller upper chamber is the Senate and its members generally serve longer terms. The larger lower chamber is called the House of Representatives. Its members serve shorter, two-year terms.
Connecticut’s judicial branch is made up of several courts including the Supreme Court, the Appellate Court, the Superior Court and the Probate Court. Each court is responsible for different types of cases, such as estate settlement, child custody issues and traffic violations. This branch is responsible for upholding laws, interpreting the Constitution of the State of Connecticut, and providing justice.
How a Bill Becomes a Law in Connecticut
Ideas for bills often come from lawmakers and from state constituents—people like you! In Connecticut, there are several steps in the process of a bill becoming a law.
- A bill is proposed in the House or Senate.
- The bill is referred to the appropriate committee for review.
- The committee makes amendments to the bill and hold public hearings on the bill.
- The committee either reports favorably on the bill to the house or defeats the bill.
- The house debates and votes on the bill.
- Bills that pass in both houses are submitted to the governor. The governor can approve the bill, defeat or take no action at all.
Tips for Contacting Your Legislators
Legislators love to hear about issues that matter to their constituents. They deal with hundreds of proposed pieces of legislation every year, and can't be expected to know that a proposed law is important to you unless you tell them.
When contacting legislators by phone:
- Identify yourself by name and home address.
- Identify the bill you wish to talk about, by name and number if possible.
- Briefly state your position and how you wish your legislator to vote.
- Ask for your legislator's stance on the bill or issue. Ask for a commitment to vote for your position, but don't argue if the legislator has an opposing view or is not yet decided.
- If your legislator needs additional information, call a supporting organization to get the information and get it to your legislator as soon as possible.
- Recognize that legislators are often away from the office, on the floor or in committee, so you may get an aide or be asked to leave a message. That's great. Use the same basic rules. If you'd rather leave a message than talk to a live body, call in the evening.
When contacting legislators in writing:
- Make clear your position and exactly what you want your legislator to do.
- Personalize your communication by telling how the legislation will affect you and others you know in your own words. Write briefly, on one subject at a time, and refer to your bills by name and number.
- Sign your letter with your name and home address so that your legislator knows if you are a constituent. Also include your phone number.
- When a legislator votes as you asked, send a thank you note.