Office of Government and
Community Relations

Wilson Hall, Room 123
371 Wilson Boulevard
Rochester, MI 48309-4486
(location map)
(248) 370-3682

State Government

The legislative power of the state of Michigan is vested in a bicameral (2-chamber) body comprised of a senate and a house of representatives. The senate consists of 38 members who are elected by the qualified electors of districts that range in size from approximately 248,600 to 274,600 residents (under a redistricting plan enacted in 2001). Senators are elected at the same time as the governor and serve 4-year terms concurrent with the governor’s term of office. The house of representatives consists of 110 members who are elected by the qualified electors of districts that range in size from approximately 85,900 to 94,800 residents (under a redistricting plan enacted in 2001). Representatives are elected in even-numbered years to 2-year terms. Legislative districts are drawn on the basis of population figures obtained through the federal decennial census. Terms for senators and representatives begin on January 1, following the November general election.

Effective with terms of office beginning on or after January 1, 1993, state legislators (as well as the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, and attorney general) are subject to term limitations. State senators may not be elected more than 2 times and state representatives may not be elected more than 3 times. The state legislature enacts the laws of Michigan; levies taxes and appropriates funds from money collected for the support of public institutions and the administration of the affairs of state government; proposes amendments to the state constitution, which must be approved by a majority vote of the electors; and considers legislation proposed by initiatory petitions.

The legislature also provides oversight of the executive branch of government through the administrative rules and audit processes, committees, and the budget process; advises and consents, through the senate, on gubernatorial appointments; and considers proposed amendments to the Constitution of the United States. The majority of the legislature’s work, however, entails lawmaking. Through a process defined by the state constitution, statute, and legislative rules, the legislature considers thousands of bills (proposed laws) during each 2-year session.

Executive Office

The executive power is vested in the governor, who is responsible for the faithful execution of the laws of the state.

Elected by the people to a 4-year term, the governor:

  • Supervises the principal departments of the executive branch and appoints members to state boards and commissions;
  • May direct an investigation of any department of state government and may require written information from executive and administrative state officers on any subject relating to the performance of their duties;
  • May remove elective and appointive officers of the executive branch for cause, as well as elective county, city, township, and village officers;
  • Submits messages to the legislature and recommends measures considered necessary or desirable;
  • Submits an annual state budget to the legislature, recommending sufficient revenues to meet proposed expenditures;
  • May convene the legislature in extraordinary session;
  • May call a special election to fill a vacancy in the legislature or the U.S. House of Representatives, and may fill a vacancy in the U.S. Senate by appointment;
  • May grant reprieves, commutations of sentences, and pardons;
  • May seek extradition of fugitives from justice who have left the state and may issue warrants at the request of other governors for fugitives who may be found within this state;
  • Signs all commissions, patents for state lands, and appoints notaries public and commissioners in other states to take acknowledgments of deeds for this state;
  • Serves as chairperson of the State Administrative Board, which supervises and approves certain state expenditures, and has veto power over its actions; and
  • Serves as commander-in-chief of the state’s armed forces.

The lieutenant governor is nominated at party convention and elected with the governor:

  • Term of office, beginning in 1966, changed from 2 years to 4 years;
  • Serves as President of the Michigan Senate, but may vote only in case of a tie; 
  • May perform duties requested by the governor, but no power vested in the governor by the Constitution of 1963 may be delegated to the lieutenant governor;
  • Is a member of the State Administrative Board and would succeed the governor in case of death, impeachment, removal from office, or resignation. 

Secretary of State

In Michigan, the secretary of state is not only responsible for elections, but also oversees vehicle registration and the licensing of automobile drivers, similar to a motor vehicles regulator in other states. The officeholder also oversees and regulates notaries public and is the keeper of the Great Seal of Michigan. The Michigan secretary of state is third in the governor of Michigan line of succession and acts in that capacity if both the office of governor and lieutenant governor of Michigan are vacant or if both are temporarily out of the state.

Attorney General

The Attorney General of Michigan is an elected office in the state of Michigan. The attorney general oversees the Office of the Attorney General which is in charge of prosecuting the laws of the state of Michigan. The attorney general is an elected position up for election each alternate even-numbered year. Per the Michigan constitution of 1963, it is a four-year term of office, and as amended in 1993, there is a two term limit. Originally this was an appointed position until the 1950 State Constitution.