A legislature is a type of representative
deliberative assemblywith the power to create, amend, and change laws. The law created by a legislature is called legislationor statutory law.
Legislatures are known by many names, the most common being
senatesand 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 budgetand other money bills."
The primary components of a legislature are one or more "
chambers" or "houses": assemblies that debateand voteupon bills. A legislature with only one house is called unicameral. A bicamerallegislature 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 tricamerallegislatures; the most recent existed in the waning years of white-minority rule in South Africa.
parliamentary systems, the lower house is the more powerful house while the upper house is merely a chamber of advice or review.
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 Unionand in Germanyand was the case in the United Statesbefore 1913, or be elected according to a formula that grants equal representation to states with smaller populations, as is the case in Australiaand 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.
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