Government of Massachusetts facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
MassStateHouse
The Massachusetts State House in Boston

The form of Massachusetts government is provided by the Constitution of the Commonwealth. The legislative power is exercised by the bicameral General Court, composed of the Senate and House of Representatives. The executive power generally is exercised by the Governor, along with other independently elected officers, the Attorney General, Secretary of the Commonwealth, and Auditor. The judicial power is reposed in the Supreme Judicial Court, which superintends the entire system of courts. Cities and towns also act through local governmental bodies that possess only the authority granted to them by the Commonwealth over local issues, including limited home rule authority. Most county governments were abolished in the 1990s and 2000s, although a handful remain.

The capital of Massachusetts is Boston. The seat of power is Beacon Hill, which is home to the legislative and executive branches. The Supreme Judicial Court occupies nearby Pemberton Hill.

Executive

There are 151 departments or agencies in Massachusetts, and over 700 independent boards and commissions. The Governor exercises direct control over many of the largest agencies, but only indirect control over independent entities through appointments.

Elected officials

The statewide elected officials are:

Karyn Polito (R)
Lieutenant Governor 
Maura Healey (D)
Attorney General 
William Galvin (D)
Secretary of the Commonwealth 
Suzanne Bump (D)
State Auditor 
Deb Goldberg (D)
Treasurer and Receiver-General 

Other elected officials are:

  • Massachusetts Governor's Council Elected every two years
  • District attorneys - Independently elected by district
  • Sheriffs - Independently elected by district

Some executive agencies are delegated by the legislature with the responsibility of formulating regulations by following a prescribed procedure. Most of these are collected in the Code of Massachusetts Regulations.

Governor's cabinet

The governor has a cabinet of ten secretaries. In general, they supervise the state agencies which are under the direct control of the governor. Eight of the secretaries preside over the "Executive Office of" their respective areas.

Transparency

The state has an Open Meeting Law, enforced by the Attorney General, and a Public Records Law, enforced by the Secretary of the Commonwealth. A 2008 report by the Better Government Association and National Freedom of Information Coalition ranked Massachusetts 43rd out of 50 states for government transparency, and gave it a failing grade of "F" taking into account time, cost, and comprehensiveness of access to public records. Access to government records and the actions of the Secretary in enforcing the law became an issue in the 2014 campaign for the office. Incumbent William Galvin cited his previous requests that the legislature revise the Public Records Law to make access easier. The governor claims to be exempt from the Public Records Law.

A reform law was signed on June 3, 2016, which will take effect on January 1, 2017, putting stricter limits on time and reducing costs.

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Government of Massachusetts Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.