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Teachers Guide

State Executive Branch


Time Needed: One to Two Class Learning Objectives. Students will be able to:
Periods Explain the functions of departments or agencies in the
Materials Needed: state executive branch
Student worksheets Describe the roles of top state officials
Overhead projections (optional) Explain how government agencies create, amend and
Access to internet for state research enforce policies in local & state governments
Identify executive departments and agencies in the
Copy Instructions: students own state
Reading (3 pages; class set) Describe how the executive branch engages with the
Activity (2 pages; class set) checks and balance system of state government
My State Activity (1 page, class set)

STEP BY STEP
ANTICIPATE by asking students to name some element of their state government, having them
guess in which branch of the government it may belong. (Its likely they will
mention a majority of executive branch elements, without knowing it.)

DISTRIBUTE the State Executive Branch reading pages to each student.

READ through the first two pages with the class, discussing each section as needed. If
you know your state minimum wage, discuss in context of the table.

READ the introduction to the Spotlight on State Election Agencies with the class. You
may project the national map at this time to facilitate discussion.

ASK students to use the map to complete the Spotlight Activity. You may complete as a
class, or ask them to complete individually then review together.

DISTRIBUTE the State Executive Branch activity pages to each student.

ASK students to complete the worksheet page.

REVIEW the answers to the activities on the worksheet.

OPTIONAL Distribute the My State Worksheet and direct students to the internet, guiding
them to your states government website. Alternatively, you can pull up the state
site and project for the class. Support the students as they search for the names
and party affiliations of the governor and six additional members of the state
executive branch.

Then ask the students to address the agency-based questions below. Remind them
that the government unit may be called an agency, department, commission, or
something else!

CLOSE by asking students to name the executive branch agency or department that they
are most likely to come into contact with in the next year and why.

Please note that there is a lesson that focuses completely on the job of the governor, which can found
elsewhere in this unit.
2016 iCivics, Inc. You may copy, distribute, or transmit this work for noncommercial purposes only. This copyright notice or a legally valid equivalent
such as 2016 iCivics Inc. shall be included in all such copies, distributions or transmittals. All other rights reserved. Find this lesson and more at
www.iCivics.org.
State Executive Branch Name:

Not so lonely at the top...


You may already know that the governor is the elected chief
executive officer of a state government. But the governor
doesnt run the state all alone. Each has a staff to handle the
day to day demands of the office. Governors also depend on
a large network of departments, agencies, and commissions
to help execute the state laws. These people also help
regulate and license state businesses, professionals, and
various activities. When you add these departments to the
governors office, you end up with a fully staffed state Simplified version of a state executive
executive branch. organizational chart

Sound familiar?
It should! Any time you look at state government, you are looking at
a scaled down model of the federal government. The role of
governor is similar to that of the president, and the collection of
departments are modeled after the presidential cabinet and
supporting agencies.
When the states set up their structure, they looked to the federal
example. But each state reserves the right to organize the
government any way theyd like. So, no two state executive
branches look exactly the same. Some have simple organizational
structures, while others have very complex and complicated systems.
The Capitol Crew
Although no two states are alike, there are 13 executive offices
that are found in most states. Theres the governor, attorney
general, superintendent of schools, treasurer, and secretary of
state - just to name a few. The roles and responsibilities for these
high level officials are usually stated in the state constitution or
later statutes (laws).
Another distinction between the federal and state governments is
that many state officials are elected, rather than appointed by the
chief executive. This means that the state cabinet can (and often
does) consist of officials from opposing parties.

Cabinet Organizer
We arent talking about the new shelves you put in your locker. All
of the state cabinet offices are a part of a larger organizational
structure, or bureaucracy. Departments usually serve as the
highest level, and are headed by a secretary (although they may
have different titles). Within a department are the agencies,
divisions, and offices that actually work directly in the state. There
is also a good chance your state has additional boards, councils,
and authorities that are part of an existing department or report
directly to the governor.
When you look at a state chart, the lower the agency or division is
- the more likely you are to come into direct contact with the work
they do on a day-to-day basis.
2016 iCivics, Inc. Reading - Side A
State Executive Branch Name:
Executing Expertise
The state is responsible for many different things, and it takes experts in
diverse areas to make it all work. This is where the executive
departments come in. The state legislature has to cover a lot of ground
creating and amending state laws. They cant be expected to be experts
in everything. Each department and agency is specialized so it can focus
on a specific area, like teacher certification or traffic safety or medical
providers. In addition to carrying out existing laws and regulations,
agencies can help inform legislators by giving testimony during hearings.
They are the part of government closest to the issues, so they have a lot
of valuable information.
How it all Works
The executive branch executes by carrying out laws passed by the
legislative branch. When the legislative branch passes a law about a
certain subject, the executive department that deals with that subject is
the one that will carry out the law. Laws may include new or changed
rules the agency must enforce, data the agency must track, services the
agency must provide, or many other things.
Sometimes, the legislative branch makes it very clear what the agency is
supposed to do. Other times, a law may give the executive agency the
power to adopt its own set of rules, which are often called regulations.
The legislative branch may give these executive agencies the power to
adopt regulations, or rules, that are needed to carry out the state laws.
These regulations have the same force as state laws, because the
legislature called for them.
The legislature doesnt just tell executive departments what to doit
creates them! Most state executive departments were established by a
state law, and, as time goes by, the state legislature may decide to add
more. It may also establish new boards, councils, or other authorities to
focus on even more detailed areas within an agency.

Regulating Close to Home


Here are two examples of executive agencies that you may interact with
sooner than later
Department of Motor Vehicles: In order to get road ready, you will need
to visit your state DMV. (The actual name varies from state to state.)
$7.25/hour These agencies provide services related to vehicle registration and
licensing drivers. Some states have standalone agencies, others share
$11.50/hour this responsibility with other state departments or even delegate these
tasks to the counties within the state.
$10.00/hour
Department of Labor: Do you know what the minimum wage is for your
$8.22/hour state? The federal government has established a national minimum wage
for all workers, but states can require higher minimum wages through
$7.25/hour legislation. The state departments of labor also regulate minimum ages
and create special restrictions for minors in the workplace. For example,
Florida limits 14- and 15-year-olds to working no more than 15 hours a
week when school is in session.
2016 iCivics, Inc. Reading - Side B
State Executive Branch Name:

Each state has an agency or department that oversees the election process - from registration
requirements, to ballot access, to compliance with federal voting laws and regulations. The majority of
states, 38 total, places election responsibilities with the office of the secretary of state. Other states have
separate agencies focused on administering elections within the state. These may be called boards of
elections or election commissions. More than a third of the states also have commissions that focus on
the ethics of elections. They make sure that rules are followed, and that campaign finance practices and
communications are ethical.
There are many laws and regulations out there that impact when you can vote, where you cast your
ballot, and how that ballot needs to be filled in. One that has received a lot of press recently focuses on
voter identification requirements. Once a state legislature passes a voter ID law, the state's agency in
charge of elections must carry out that law and enforce it.
The majority of states now enforce some kind of voter ID. Many call for a photo ID, like a drivers license
or military ID card. Some states allow voters to present alternative forms of identification (like a current
bill with your name and address). Each state enforces these requirements in different ways. Non-strict
states do not prevent you from voting at the polls. Strict states only allow unidentified voters to cast a
provisional ballot. These votes are not counted until the voters identity and ability to vote is verified.
So, future voter, what are the requirements in YOUR state? _____________________________
How is it enforced? ____________________________________________________

*As of June 2016

2016 iCivics, Inc. Spotlight - Side A


State Executive Branch Name:

A. Pro/Con. The decision by states to require various levels of voter identification is a hotly debated
topic. Read through these common arguments for and against voter ID laws and label them as PRO or
CON a photo ID. Then place a star* next to what you believe to be the strongest PRO and CON
_____ _____

_____ % _____
%

_____ _____

_____ _____

_____ _____

1. How would you summarize the concerns and arguments of those who support voter ID laws?

2. How would you summarize the concerns and arguments of those who oppose voter ID laws?

B. Executing the Election. Read each scenario and answer the question that follows.
You are in charge of the election agency in State You are in charge of the election agency in State
A, which has a strict voter ID law. List steps you B, which has no voter ID law. List steps you
could take to make sure as many eligible voters could take to reduce the risk of voter fraud in
as possible are able to cast a ballot. your state.

2016 iCivics, Inc. Spotlight - Side B


State Executive Branch Name:

A. Whose Job Is It? Select the role that best fits the job descriptions.
___ 1. I am often the second highest executive ___ 2. I usually oversee the administration of
office, and may succeed the governor if they the state, keep state records, and can oversee
can no longer serve. state elections.
a. Attorney General a. Secretary of State
b. Lieutenant Governor b. Treasurer
c. Chief of Staff c. Lieutenant Governor

___ 3. I usually keep track of the states ___ 4. I am responsible for overseeing and
revenue, finances, and I act as the chief coordinating the K-12 schools in the state.
banker.
a. Labor Secretary
a. Insurance Commissioner
b. Superintendent of Schools or
b. Secretary of State Commissioner of Education
c. Treasurer or Controller c. Public Services Commissioner
5. Select one of the positions listed above and write it here: ____________________________________
Think about the kind of expertise this position would require. List three qualifications you think a
person should have in order to get the job. (Think about previous work experience, education, etc.)
1. _______________________________________________________________________________
2. _______________________________________________________________________________
3.________________________________________________________________________________

B. True or False Based on what you've learned about the state executive branch, decide whether you
think each statement is true or false (circle your choice) and explain why.

1. Executive branches look the same in each and every state.


Its true / false because: __________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
2. Every state has a governor and attorney general in the executive branch.
Its true / false because: __________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
3. State agencies carry out both state and federal laws and regulations.
Its true / false because: __________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
4. Usually, the higher up you go in the state executive branch, the closer these positions work with the
public.
Its true / false because: __________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________

2016 iCivics, Inc. Lesson Activities - Side A


State Executive Branch Name:
C. To Split, Or Not To Split? 26 states elect their governor and lieutenant governor as a single
ticket. 17 states have completely separate elections for these positions. Sort these statements into
support for splitting the state ticket or for keeping them as one ticket. (Place an X in the correct column)
Then challenge yourself to come up with an argument for both sides on your own.

9. There is no way officials from different parties could work


together! Could you imagine the president and vice president from

10. People should elect who is best for each position, not elect one
official and get the other one thrown in.

11. This is a great way to bring more checks and balances to the
state executive branch.

12. If people elect a governor that belongs to one party, what


happens when the Lt. Governor from the other party takes over?

13.

14.

D. Making Connections. The state executive and legislative branches are constantly interacting with
each other. Draw and label at least three ways the branches interact.

2016 iCivics, Inc. Lesson Activities - Side B


State Executive Branch Name:
Use the information you find on your state government site, and the information you receive from your
teacher to complete this data sheet.
______________________

The Executive Branch


Governor
Name:
Republican / Democrat / Other

Agency: _____________________ Agency: _____________________ Agency: _____________________


Title:________________________ Title:________________________ Title:________________________
Name:_______________________ Name:_______________________ Name:_______________________
Republican / Democrat / Other Republican / Democrat / Other Republican / Democrat / Other

Agency: _____________________ Agency: _____________________ Agency: _____________________


Title:________________________ Title:________________________ Title:________________________
Name:_______________________ Name:_______________________ Name:_______________________
Republican / Democrat / Other Republican / Democrat / Other Republican / Democrat / Other

Where would you get your drivers license or photo id issued?


Agency or Department: __________________________________________________________
List two additional things this agency does:
_____________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________
Where would you get information about voting in an upcoming election (registering, polling places, etc.)
Agency or Department: __________________________________________________________
What services does this agency provide online?
_____________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________
Where would you get information on the threat of infectious diseases, like Ebola or West Nile Virus?
Agency or Department: __________________________________________________________
What health issue seems to be of highest concern in your state right now? How is the
state addressing it?
___________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________

2016 iCivics, Inc. My State Worksheet


State Executive Branch ** TEACHER GUIDE **

A. Pro/Con. The decision by states to require various levels of voter identification is a hotly debated
topic. Read through these common arguments for and against voter ID laws and label them as PRO or
CON a photo ID. Then place a star* next to what you believe to be the strongest PRO and CON
CON PRO

CON % PRO
%

PRO PRO

PRO CON

PRO CON

1. How would you summarize the concerns and arguments of those who support voter ID laws?
Answers will vary- prevent fraud, getting ID is not a hardship

2. How would you summarize the concerns and arguments of those who oppose voter ID laws?
Answers will vary- disadvantages large voting groups, getting ID is a hardship

B. Executing the Election. Read each scenario and answer the question that follows.
You are in charge of the election agency in State You are in charge of the election agency in State
A, which has a strict voter ID law. List steps you B, which has no voter ID law. List steps you
could take to make sure as many eligible voters as could take to reduce the risk of voter fraud in
possible are able to cast a ballot. your state.

Answers will vary Answers will vary

2016 iCivics, Inc. Spotlight - Side B


State Executive Branch ** TEACHER GUIDE **
A. Whose Job Is It? Select the role that best fits the job descriptions.
_B_ 1. I am often the second highest _A_ 2. I usually oversee the administration of
executive office, and may succeed the governor the state, keep state records, and can oversee
if they can no longer serve. state elections.
a. Attorney General a. Secretary of State
b. Lieutenant Governor b. Treasurer
c. Chief of Staff c. Lieutenant Governor

_C_ 3. I usually keep track of the states _B_ 4. I am responsible for overseeing and
revenue, finances, and I act as the chief coordinating the K-12 schools in the state.
banker.
a. Labor Secretary
a. Insurance Commissioner
b. Superintendent of Schools or
b. Secretary of State Commissioner of Education
c. Treasurer or Controller c. Public Services Commissioner

5. Select one of the positions listed above and write it here: ____________________________________
Think about the kind of expertise this position would require. List three qualifications you think a
person should have in order to get the job. (Think about previous work experience, education, etc.)
1. _______________________________________________________________________________
Answers will vary
2. _______________________________________________________________________________
3.________________________________________________________________________________

B. True or False Based on what you've learned about the state executive branch, decide whether you
think each statement is true or false (circle your choice) and explain why.

1. Executive branches look the same in each and every state.


Answers will vary- each state has the power to create their own
Its true / false because: __________________________________________________________
structure and organization
_______________________________________________________________________________
2. Every state has a governor and attorney general in the executive branch.
Answers will vary- these positions are found in each state
Its true / false because: __________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
3. State agencies carry out both state and federal laws and regulations.
Its true / false because: __________________________________________________________
Answers will vary- the state election agencies are tasked with
making sure the elections are in compliance with federal laws
_______________________________________________________________________________
4. Usually, the higher up you go in the state executive branch, the closer these positions work with the
public.
Answers will vary- the agencies and sub-departments are more
Its true / false because: __________________________________________________________
involved in the day-to-day work of the government and are closest to
_______________________________________________________________________________
the people
2016 iCivics, Inc. Lesson Activities - Side A
State Executive Branch ** TEACHER GUIDE **
C. To Split, Or Not To Split? 26 states elect their governor and lieutenant governor as a single
ticket. 17 states have completely separate elections for these positions. Sort these statements into
support for splitting the state ticket or for keeping them as one ticket. (Place an X in the correct column)
Then challenge yourself to come up with an argument for both sides on your own.

9. There is no way officials from different parties could work


together! Could you imagine the president and vice president from

10. People should elect who is best for each position, not elect one
official and get the other one thrown in.

11. This is a great way to bring more checks and balances to the
state executive branch.

12. If people elect a governor that belongs to one party, what


happens when the Lt. Governor from the other party takes over?

13.
Answers will vary

14.
Answers will vary

D. Making Connections. The state executive and legislative branches are constantly interacting with
each other. Draw and label at least three ways the branches interact.

Answers will vary

2016 iCivics, Inc. Lesson Activities - Side B


State Executive Branch Name:

*As of June 2016

2016 iCivics, Inc. Map Projection