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Government of Michigan facts for kids

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Michigan has a republican form of government with three branches of government: the executive branch consisting of the Governor of Michigan and the other independently elected constitutional officers; the legislative branch consisting of the House of Representatives and Senate; and the judicial branch consisting of the one court of justice. The state also allows direct participation of the electorate by initiative, referendum, recall, and ratification.

Executive branch

Michigan's elected executive officers are:

For elected single person executives, term limits of 2 terms were put into place in 1993. Since 1966, the Lieutenant Governor is elected with the Governor on the same ticket. The Lieutenant Governor is the President of the Michigan Senate and acts as the governor when the Governor is unable to execute the office, including whenever the Governor leaves the state. The Governor is the principal executive officer with the power of veto, appointment, reorganize executive government, budget proposal and other powers.

Lansing, Michigan Grand Tower
The Grand Tower in Lansing

The two other elected constitutional executives of the state are the secretary of state and attorney general. Both are elected for separately four year terms concurrently with the governor/lieutenant governor slate. The elected officeholders are second and third in the line of succession respectively and may act as governor during disabilities or absences from the state. The attorney general is the state’s chief law enforcement officer, executive agencies legal counsel and leads the Department of the Attorney General. The secretary of state and its department handles automobile-related licensing, elections and record holding.


The 1963 Constitution requires that all permanent agencies or commissions, except universities, be assigned to one of a maximum of twenty principal departments. The principal departments are the:

  • Department of Agriculture and Rural Development
  • Department of Attorney General
  • Department of Civil Rights
  • Department of Corrections
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Environmental Quality
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Department of Insurance and Financial Services
  • Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
  • Department of Military and Veterans Affairs
  • Department of Natural Resources
  • Department of State
  • Department of State Police
  • Department of Talent and Economic Development
  • Department of Technology, Management and Budget
  • Department of Transportation
  • Department of Treasury

Type 1 agencies are under the under administration of the agency but operates independently of the principal department in caring out its function and in most cases created by a type 1 transfer. Regulations are published in the Michigan Register (MR) and codified in the Michigan Administrative Code (MAC or AC).


The state board of Education is a statewide elected board that head the Michigan Department of Education which oversees all education except that of the state universities.

Michigan's state universities are immune from control by the legislature, many aspects of the executive branch, and cities in which they are located; but they are not immune from the authority of the courts. Some degree of political control is exercised as the legislature approves appropriations for the schools. Furthermore, the governor appoints the board of control of most state universities with the advice and consent of the state Senate. Only the board members of the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Wayne State University are chosen in general elections.

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