Relationship Between State and Local Government | Social Studies

August 19, 2015 thetasctest

Do you think you have more contact with the federal, state, or local government? As powerful as we see the federal government, we have more daily contact with our state and local governments. According to, under the tenth amendment, “The powers not granted to the federal government are reserved for states and the people, which are divided between state and local governments.”

Let’s look at the responsibilities of the state and local government to prepare for the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™ Social Studies subtest.

State Governments 

Every state government is structured like the federal government, consisting of three branches:

  • The Executive Branch is led by the governor. Other leadership found in this branch of the state government includes: the lieutenant governor, the attorney general, the secretary of state, and auditors and commissioners. These leaders are directly elected by the citizens of the state.
  • The Legislative Branch is made up of elected representatives. Bills are first introduced in this branch. Bills are either accepted, amended, or rejected by committees in the State Congress. If a bill is accepted, it must pass in both the Senate and the House of Representatives before being presented to the governor. If the governor approves, the bill is signed into law.
  • The Judicial Branch is led by the state supreme court. Appeals, which are requests made to change a ruling from lower-level state courts, are heard by the state supreme court. These appeals focus on correcting previous court errors at interpreting state laws.

Local Governments

There are two levels within local governments: counties and municipalities (cities/towns). Some states divide counties into townships. Municipalities are structured around a population, which vary in size. For example, New York City has millions of residents, but Valley City, North Dakota has a population of only 6,676. Both cities have a governing municipality.

Municipalities are typically responsible for maintaining public roads, managing the police, fire, and recreational departments, organizing public transportation, regulating zoning laws, and handling city electric, sewer, and street signage.

State and local governments don’t function completely separately since they serve the same residents. According to, the state government has the final say over local functions. They reserve the power to abolish local governments, merge them with other entities, or provide additional authority. For example, if a town or village is too small in population, the state government may decide to merge it with a neighboring town.

Test your new understanding of state and local governments with this five-question quiz as you study for the TASC test.

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