LAW AND GOVERNMENT OF CONNECTICUT

Hartford has been the sole capital of Connecticut since 1875. Before then, New Haven and Hartford alternated as capitals.

Constitutional history
Connecticut is known as the "Constitution State". While the origin on this title is uncertain, the nickname is assumed to refer to the Fundamental Orders of 1638–39. These Fundamental Orders represent the framework for the first formal government written by a representative body in Connecticut. The government has operated under the direction of four separate documents in the course of Connecticut Constitutional History. After the Fundamental Orders, Connecticut was granted governmental authority by King Charles II of England through the Connecticut Charter of 1662. While these two documents acted to lay the ground work for the state’s government, either document could be altered simply by a majority vote of the General Assembly. Separate branches of government did not exist during this period, and the General Assembly acted as the supreme authority. A constitution similar to the modern U.S. Constitution was not adopted in Connecticut until 1818. Finally, the current state constitution was implemented in 1965. The 1965 constitution absorbed a majority of its 1818 predecessor, but incorporated a handful of important modifications. Another possible source of the nickname "constitution state" comes from Connecticut's pivotal role in the federal constitutional convention of 1787, during which Roger Sherman and Oliver Ellsworth helped to orchestrate what became known as the Connecticut Compromise, or the Great Compromise. This plan combined the Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan to form a bicameral legislature, a form copied by almost every state constitution since the adoption of the federal constitution.

Executive
The governor heads the executive branch. The current Governor of Connecticut is M. Jodi Rell (Republican). The current Lieutenant Governor is Michael Fedele. From 1639 until the adoption of the 1818 constitution, the governor presided over the General Assembly. Connecticut was the first state in the United States to elect a woman as governor without electing her husband first, Ella Grasso in 1974.

There are several executive departments: Administrative Services, Agriculture, Banking, Children and Families, Consumer Protection, Correction, Economic and Community Development, Developmental Services, Education, Environmental Protection, Higher Education, Information Technology, Insurance, Labor, Mental Health and Addiction Services, Military, Motor Vehicles, Public Health, Public Safety, Public Utility Control, Public Works, Revenue Services, Social Services, Transportation, and Veterans Affairs. In addition to these departments, there are other independent bureaus, offices and commissions. In addition to the Governor and Lieutenant Governor, there are four other executive officers named in the state constitution that are elected directly by voters: Secretary of the State, Treasurer, Comptroller and Attorney General. All executive officers are elected to four year terms.

Legislative
The legislature is the General Assembly. The General Assembly is a bicameral body consisting of an upper body, the State Senate (36 senators); and a lower body, the House of Representatives (151 representatives).[24] Bills must pass each house in order to become law. The governor can veto the bill, but this veto can be overridden by a two-thirds majority in each house. Senators and representatives, all of whom must be at least eighteen years of age, are elected to two-year terms in November on even-numbered years. The Lieutenant Governor presides over the Senate, except when absent from the chamber, when the President pro tempore presides. The Speaker of the House presides over the House; Chris Donovan is the current Speaker of the House of Connecticut. The Democrats currently hold a two-thirds super-majority in both houses of the General Assembly.

Connecticut's U.S. senators are Christopher J. Dodd (Democrat) and Joseph I. Lieberman (Connecticut for Lieberman, Independent Democrat) who is part of the Democratic Caucus. Connecticut currently has five representatives in the U.S. House, all of whom are Democrats. Connecticut and Vermont remain the only two states with Independent Senators.

Judicial
The highest court of Connecticut's judicial branch is the Connecticut Supreme Court, headed by the Chief Justice of Connecticut. The Supreme Court is responsible for deciding on the constitutionality of the law or cases as they relate to the law. Its proceedings are similar to those of the United States Supreme Court, with no testimony given by witnesses, and the lawyers of the two sides each present oral arguments no longer than thirty minutes. Following a court proceeding, the court may take several months to arrive at a judgment. The current Chief Justice is Chase T. Rogers. In 1818, the court became a separate entity, independent of the legislative and executive branches. The Appellate Court is a lesser state-wide court and the Superior Courts are lower courts that resemble county courts of other states.

Local government
Connecticut has 169 towns, which serve as the fundamental local political subdivision of the state; the entire state is divided into towns. Connecticut shares a local form of government with the rest of New England called the New England town. There are also 21 cities, most of which are coterminous with their namesake towns and have a merged city-town government. There are two exceptions: City of Groton, which is a subsection of the Town of Groton and the City of Winsted in the Town of Winchester. There are also nine incorporated boroughs which may provide additional services to a section of town. One, Naugatuck, is a consolidated town and borough.

Unlike most other states, Connecticut does not have county government. Connecticut county governments were mostly eliminated in 1960, with the exception of sheriffs elected in each county. In 2000, the county sheriff was abolished and replaced with the state marshal system, which has districts that follow the old county territories. The judicial system is divided, at the trial court level, into judicial districts which largely follow the old county lines. The eight counties are still widely used for purely geographical and statistical purposes, such as weather reports, and census reporting.

The state is divided into 15 planning regions defined by the state Office of Planning and Management. The Intragovernmental Policy Division of this Office coordinates regional planning with the administrative bodies of these regions. Each region has an administrative body known as either a regional council of governments, a regional council of elected officials, or a regional planning agency. The regions are established for the purpose of planning "coordination of regional and state planning activities; designation or redesignation of logical planning regions and promotion of the continuation of regional planning organizations within the state; and provision for technical aid and the administration of financial assistance to regional planning organizations."

Luciano Mende

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