Legislature

A legislature is a type of representative deliberative assembly with the power to create, amend, and change laws. The law created by a legislature is called legislation or statutory law.

Legislatures are known by many names, the most common being senates and congress, although these terms also have more specific meanings.

The main job of the legislature is to make and amend laws. In parliamentary systems of government, the legislature is formally supreme and appoints the executive. In presidential systems of government, the legislature is considered a power branch which is equal to, and independent of, the executive. In addition to enacting laws, legislatures usually have exclusive authority to raise taxes and adopt the budget and other money bills."

The primary components of a legislature are one or more "chambers" or "houses": assemblies that debate and vote upon bills. A legislature with only one house is called unicameral. A bicameral legislature possesses two separate chambers, usually described as an upper house and a lower house, which often differ in duties, powers, and the methods used for the selection of members. Much rarer have been tricameral legislatures; the most recent existed in the waning years of white-minority rule in South Africa.

In most parliamentary systems, the lower house is the more powerful house while the upper house is merely a chamber of advice or review.

However, in presidential systems, the powers of the two houses are often similar or equal. In federations it is typical for the upper house to represent the component states; the same applies to the supranational legislature of the European Union. For this purpose the upper house may either contain the delegates of state governments, as is the case in the European Union and in Germany and was the case in the United States before 1913, or be elected according to a formula that grants equal representation to states with smaller populations, as is the case in Australia and the modern United States.

The House of Representatives may bring no charges. All bills which concern false statements must originate in the house. Because of the size of the body, debate is unnecessary in special cases, where all representatives may meet as a sub-ordinate indivisible member of the union.

ee also

*Legislative Council
*Legislative Assembly


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  • législature — [ leʒislatyr ] n. f. • 1741; « législation » 1636; de législateur, d apr. l angl. legislature 1 ♦ Rare Le corps législatif d un pays. ⇒ assemblée, parlement. 2 ♦ (1791) Cour. Période durant laquelle une assemblée législative exerce ses pouvoirs.… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • legislature — le‧gis‧la‧ture [ˈledʒsleɪtʆə, lətʆə ǁ ər] noun [countable] LAW an institution that has the power to make or change laws, for example a parliament: • the Iowa state legislature * * * legislature UK US /ˈledʒɪslətʃʊər/ US  / tʃɚ/ noun [C]… …   Financial and business terms

  • Legislature — Leg is*la ture (l[e^]j [i^]s*l[=a] t[ u]r; 135), n. [Cf. F. l[ e]gislature.] The body of persons in a state or kingdom invested with power to make and repeal laws; a legislative body. [1913 Webster] Without the concurrent consent of all three… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • legislature — leg·is·la·ture / le jəs ˌlā chər, ˌchu̇r/ n: a body of persons having the power to legislate; specif: an organized body having the authority to make laws for a political unit (as a nation or state) compare executive, judiciary Merriam Webster’s… …   Law dictionary

  • Legislature — Législature Une législature est le mandat d’un parlement, c est également la durée de ce mandat depuis l installation d une assemblée législative jusqu à l expiration de ses pouvoirs. Listes de législatures Liste des législatures allemandes Liste …   Wikipédia en Français

  • legislature — 1670s; see LEGISLATOR (Cf. legislator) + URE (Cf. ure) …   Etymology dictionary

  • legislature — [n] governmental body, most often elected, that makes laws assembly, body, chamber, congress, council, diet, house, house of representatives, lawmakers, parliament, plenum, senate, voice of the people; concept 299 …   New thesaurus

  • legislature — ► NOUN ▪ the legislative body of a state …   English terms dictionary

  • legislature — [lej′islā΄chər] n. [see LEGISLATOR & URE] a body of persons given the responsibility and power to make laws for a country or state; specif., the lawmaking body of a state, corresponding to the U.S. Congress …   English World dictionary

  • legislature — n. 1) to convene a legislature 2) to disband, dismiss, dissolve a legislature 3) a bicameral legislature * * * [ ledʒɪsleɪtʃə] dismiss dissolve a legislature a bicameral legislature to convene a legislature to disband …   Combinatory dictionary

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