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Encyclopedia > Missouri Constitution

Within Missouri, there are three levels of government: State nickname: The Show Me State Official languages English Capital Jefferson City Largest city Kansas City (largest metropolitan area is Saint Louis) Governor Matt Blunt (R) Senators Kit Bond (R) Jim Talent (R) Area  - Total  - % water Ranked 21st 69,709 mi²; 180,693 km² 1. ...

  • state government
  • county
  • city

Missouri's state capital is Jefferson City lying approximately halfway between its two largest cities, St. Louis on the eastern border and Kansas City on the western border. The organization of Missouri's state government is similar to many of the other states in the United States. Its constitution specifies the organizational structure of the state's government in addition to other basic rules and procedures. These are covered in the following subsections. In politics, a capital (also called capital city or political capital — although the latter phrase has an alternative meaning based on an alternative meaning of capital) is the principal city or town associated with its government. ... The capitol building on a sunny day. ... Saint Louis (pronounced in English, in French), frequently spelled St. ... Kansas City is a city covering parts of Jackson, Clay, Cass, and Platte counties in Missouri, USA. Although it is the largest city in Jackson County, the suburb of Independence is the county seat. ... A U.S. state is any one of the fifty states (four of which officially favor the term commonwealth) which, with the District of Columbia, forms the United States of America. ...


State Government Organization

The current constitution of Missouri, the fourth constitution for the state, was adopted in 1945 and provides for 3 branches of government, the legislative, judicial and executive branches. 1945 (MCMXLV) was a common year starting on Monday (link will take you to calendar). ...

General Assembly

The legislative branch, called the General Assembly, is specified in Article III of the Missouri Constitution. The General Assembly consists of two bodies, the House of Representatives and the Senate.

The House of Representatives has 163 members who are elected every 2 years. Each Representative may serve at most 4 terms.

The Senate consists of 34 members from districts divided such that the population of each district is approximately equal. The Senators are elected for 4 year terms; terms are staggered so that half of the Senate is elected every two years. Each Senator may serve at most 2 terms.

Voting districts for both houses are apportioned based on the last decennial census. A commission is set up by the Governor to recommend the new districts. The two parties who had the most votes in the last gubernatorial election select the nominees for the commission and the Governor selects from among these. In practice, the two parties are the Democrat and Republican parties.

The Missouri constitution does not allow a referendum for the district apportionment.


The executive branch (Article IV) is headed by the governor, who is charged with executing the laws of the state. The governor is elected for 4 years and can serve two terms. He or she must be at least 30 years of age, a Missouri resident for at least 10 years, and a U.S. citizen for at least 15 years before holding office. Under the doctrine of the separation of powers, the executive is the branch of a government charged with implementing, or executing, the law. ...

There is also a lieutenant governor, required to have the same qualifications as the governor, who is an ex officio president of the Senate. The lieutenant governor is allowed to debate any and all questions before the Senate as a whole and may cast the deciding ballot in case of a tie. Additionally, the lieutenant governor assumes the office of governor in case of the governor's death, resignation, or incapacity.


The judicial branch, as specified by Article V of the Missouri Constitution, consists of:

  • the state supreme court.
  • court of appeals.
  • 44 circuit courts.
  • associate circuit courts.

Seven judges comprise the State Supreme Court and hold court in the state's capital, Jefferson City. Unlike the life term appointments made to the Supreme Court of the United States, these judges hold the position for 12 years. Judges for the court of appeals hold their office for 12 years as well, but circuit court judges have terms of 6 years and associate circuit court judges have terms of 4 years. There are no term limits for judges, though there is a mandatory retirement age of 76 years. In politics, a capital (also called capital city or political capital — although the latter phrase has an alternative meaning based on an alternative meaning of capital) is the principal city or town associated with its government. ... The capitol building on a sunny day. ... The Supreme Court of the United States is the supreme court in the United States. ... A term limit is a provision of a constitution, statute or bylaw which limits the number of terms a person may serve in a particular elected office. ... A mandatory retirement age is the age at which persons who hold certain jobs or offices are required by statute to step down, or retire. ...

Missouri pioneered a unique way of selecting judges for its supreme court and court of appeals in an effort to remove some of the partisan politics from the selection process. Article V Sect 25(a) of the Missouri Constitution specifies a process, known as the Missouri Plan, to appoint judges to the following courts: Also known as the merit plan, the Missouri Plan (originally the Missouri Nonpartisan Court Plan) is a method for the nonpartisan selection of judges currently used in 11 U.S. states. ...

When a position becomes available in one of the above courts, a nonpartisan commission reviews applications, interviews candidates, and submits three nominees to the Governor. The Governor then appoints one of the three nominees to fill the vacant position. Finally, in the first general election 1 year or more after the appointment, the judge must be retained by the voters before serving a full term. The Gateway Arch, shown here behind the Old Courthouse, is the most recognizable part of the St. ... Jackson County is a county located in the state of Missouri. ... St. ... Clay County is a county located in the U.S. state of Missouri. ... Platte County is a county located in the state of Missouri. ...

Judges for all other courts are elected directly by the voters.

County and City Government

Counties with more than 85,000 people may elect their own charters, smaller ones must use the standard charter dictated by the state.

Missouri allows cities to adopt their own charter should they chose to do so; it was the first state in the union to do so. Regardless of the freedom given to city governments, most municipalities choose to organize their local government around a mayor and a city council. Council members are typically elected in either city wide or district elections.

Political Parties

Like the rest of the nation, the two dominant parties in Missouri are the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. These parties have been responsible for establishing the voting districts, casting the votes in the electoral college as well as fielding candidates for the general elections and help determining legislative policy and priorities. The Democratic Party is one of the two major political parties in the United States. ... The Republican Party, often called the GOP (for Grand Old Party, although one early citation described it as the Gallant Old Party) [1], is one of the two major political parties in the United States. ...

External References




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