Office Descriptions (state)
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Whitman County Auditor > English > Elections > For Candidates > Office Descriptions (state)
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Descriptions of Elective Offices

Federal Offices

President/Vice President

Under the U.S. Constitution, the President must be at least 35 years old and a natural-born citizen of the United States. The president's term of office is four years; no person may serve more than two consecutive terms as president.

The president's functions, powers, and responsibilities are defined by Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution. The chief duty is to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed, and this duty is performed through a system of executive agencies that includes cabinet-level departments. The president appoints all the cabinet heads and most other high-ranking officials of the executive branch of the federal government. The president also nominates all judges of the federal judiciary, including the members of the Supreme Court; nominees are subject to confirmation by the Senate. The president is the commander in chief of the nation's armed forces, in times of peace as well as war. The president has the power to make treaties with foreign governments, though the Senate must approve such treaties. Finally, the president has the power to approve or reject (veto) the laws passed by Congress.

The Constitution stipulates that the Vice President shall become President in the event the President dies, resigns, or is removed from office. The Vice President also serves as the presiding officer of the U.S. Senate.

U.S. Senator

The U.S. Constitution prescribes that a Senator must be at least 30 years of age, have been a citizen of the United States for nine years, and, when elected, be a resident of the State from which the he or she is chosen. A Senator's term of office is six years and approximately one-third of the total membership of the Senate is elected every second year. The Senate has 100 members - two from each State.

The Constitution assigns the Senate and House equal responsibility for declaring war, maintaining the armed forces, assessing taxes, borrowing money, minting currency, regulating commerce, and making all laws necessary for the operation of the government. The Senate holds exclusive authority to advise and consent on treaties and nominations.

U.S. Representative

The U.S. Constitution prescribes that a Representative must be at least 25 years of age, have been a citizen of the United States for seven years, and, when elected, be a resident of the State from which the he or she is chosen. A Representative's term of office is two years; the total membership of the House is elected in even-numbered years.

Under the Constitution, each state is entitled to at least one Representative; additional seats are apportioned on the basis of the state's population. The current size of the House of Representatives - 435 members - was established in 1913.

The Constitution assigns the Senate and House equal responsibility for declaring war, maintaining the armed forces, assessing taxes, borrowing money, minting currency, regulating commerce, and making all laws necessary for the operation of the government. The Senate holds exclusive authority to advise and consent on treaties and nominations.

Statewide Offices

Governor

The Governor is the chief executive officer of the state, elected by the people to serve a four-year term. The Governor is responsible for overall administration of the affairs of the state of Washington.

The duties and powers of the Governor, outlined in the Washington Constitution and Statutes, consist primarily of the following:

  1. to supervise the conduct of all executive and ministerial offices in the execution of the laws;
  2. to ensure that all laws are faithfully executed throughout the state;
  3. to make appointments to the positions that the Governor is empowered to fill;
  4. to remove from office for incompetence, misconduct, or malfeasance in office those state officers appointed by the Governor what are not liable to impeachment;
  5. to act as Commander-in-Chief of all state military forces, except when they are called into the service of the United States;
  6. to call upon the National Guard to execute the laws of the state, to suppress insurrection, and to repel invasion;
  7. to inform the Legislature of the condition of the state;
  8. to sign into law acts of the Legislature which the Governor approves, and veto acts or portions disapproved;
  9. to act as the sole official state spokesman for communication between the state and the government of any other state or territory of the United States;
  10. to issue or honor requisitions for extraditions of fugitives from justice;
  11. to grant commutations of sentences, reprieves, pardons, and conditional pardons;
  12. to execute deeds for the sale of state lands;
  13. to direct the Attorney General to investigate violations of the criminal law, direct the Attorney General to aid any prosecuting attorney in the discharge of his duties, and direct the Attorney General or any prosecuting attorney to inquire into the affairs or management of any corporation existing under state law;
  14. to provide for the post audit of books, accounts, and records of the State Auditor;
  15. to commission notaries public; and
  16. to serve as member ex-officio of the Capitol Committee, Finance Committee, Toll Bridge Authority, and Board of Natural Resources as well as chairman of the Traffic Safety Commission.

The office was created by Article III, Section 2, of the Washington Constitution. The Governor's powers and duties are outlined in Section 5-13 of the Constitution and RCW 43.06.

Lieutenant Governor

The Lieutenant Governor is elected independently of the Governor and holds office for four years. The State Constitution gives the Lieutenant Governor the following responsibilities: To act as Governor if the Governor is unable to perform his/her official duties; to be presiding officer of the State Senate; to discharge other duties prescribed by law.

The Lieutenant Governor presides as President of the Senate, serves as executive chairman of the Senate Rules Committee and as chairman of the Legislative Committee on Economic Development; as a member of the State Finance Committee, State Capitol Committee, Health Care Facilities Authority, Business License Center Board of Review, Higher Education Facilities Authority, State Medal of Merit Committee, Public Deposit Protection Disclosure Commission.

The office was created pursuant to Article III, Section 10 and 16 of the Washington Constitution. The duties are listed in RCW 43.06.050.

Secretary of State

The Secretary of State is the state's chief elections officer, chief corporations officer, and supervisor of the State Archives. The primary functions of the office are to register and license all domestic and foreign profit and non-profit corporations, limited partnerships, and trademarks and to record related filings; conduct elections, verify initiatives and referendums, process requests for absentee ballots, and distribute copies of election laws and regulations; and maintain the state's archives and records management program, including collecting, preserving, and making available for research the historical records of the state and coordinating implementation of the state's records management laws.

The Secretary of State is elected to a four-year term. The office was created by the State Constitution, Article III, Section 17. The duties are outlined in RCW 43.07.

State Treasurer

The State Treasurer is charged with the responsibility of formulating and executing policy for the management of the state treasury and related financial resources of the State of Washington. As the state's fiscal officer his/her principal duties are to manage and disperse all funds and accounts; be responsible for the safekeeping and interest on all state investments; accounting for and making payments of interest and principal on all state bonded indebtedness and maintaining a statewide revenue collection system for the purpose of expediting the deposit of state funds into the Treasury.

The State Treasurer is elected to a four-year term. The office was created by Article III, Section 19 of the State Constitution. The duties are outlined in RCW 43.08.

State Auditor

The State Auditor conducts financial and legal compliance audits of all state agencies and local governments in Washington to determine compliance with the state constitution, state laws, and local ordinances and Government Auditing Standards. Audit results are documented and issued in public reports. The Auditor is granted limited authority to conduct performance audits of state agencies as authorized by the Legislature. Additionally, the Auditor prescribes and installs the Budgeting, Accounting, and Reporting System for local governments. Also under the Auditor's purview is the administration of the state employee Whistleblower Act.

The State Auditor is elected to a term of four years. The office was created by Article III, Section 20 of the Washington State Constitution and the duties are outlined in RCW 43.09 and 43.88.

Attorney General

The Office of the Attorney General is the largest law firm in Washington State with 435 attorneys and about 650 professional staff. The office is headed by the Attorney General, the state's chief legal officer, and has a broad array of responsibilities unique and necessary to the operations of state government. The Attorney General serves as legal counsel to the Governor, members of the legislature, state officials, and more than 230 state agencies, boards and commissions, colleges and universities. The prosecuting attorneys of the 39 counties can request legal advice, which is usually given in the form of an official letter known as an attorney general opinion. The office also represents the various administrative agencies and schools in court or administrative hearings. The Office of the Attorney General enforces consumer protection statutes and serves the public directly by providing information on consumer rights and fraudulent business practices.

The Attorney General is elected to office for a four-year term. The office was created pursuant to Article III, Section 21 of the Washington State Constitution. The duties are outlined in RCW 43.10.

Superintendent of Public Instruction

The Superintendent of Public Instruction supervises the public schools in the state. The superintendent also acts in an advisory capacity to other areas of public education. The regulatory duties of the office include certification of teaching personnel, approval and accreditation programs, and apportionment of state and local funds. The superintendent also provides assistance to school districts school improvement area; in statistical analysis, accounting, management, assessment, and curriculum development.

The Superintendent is elected to a four-year term of office. The office was created pursuant to Article III, Section 22 of the Washington State Constitution. The duties are outlined in RCW 28A.0300.

Commissioner of Public Lands

The Commissioner of Public Lands is the head of the Department of Natural Resources, overseeing the management of 5 million acres of forest, agricultural, range, tidal and shore lands of the state. Subject to proprietary policies established by the Board of Natural Resources, the Commissioner of Public Lands is responsible for the exercise of all duties and functions of the department. The commissioner also chairs the Board of Natural Resources; Forest Practices Board; Board of Geographic Names; the Harbor Lines Commission; and serves on the Capitol Campus Committee.

The commissioner is elected to a four-year term of office. The office was created pursuant to Article III, Section 23 of the Washington State Constitution. The duties are outlined in RCW 43.12 and RCW 43.30.

Insurance Commissioner

The Office of the Insurance Commissioner regulates insurance companies doing business in Washington, licenses agents and brokers, reviews policies and rates, examines the operations and finances of insurers, and handles inquiries and complaints from the public.

The Insurance Commissioner is elected to a four-year term of office.

The office was created by the Legislature and the duties are listed in RCW 48.02.060

Judicial Offices

Supreme Court Justice

The Washington Supreme Court is the head of the judicial branch of state government, co-equal with the legislative and executive branches, and it is the state court of last resort. It consists of nine justices serving six-year terms, with three justices being chosen by the voters from a non-partisan judicial ballot at the general election in November of each even-numbered year.

The goal of the Supreme Court is to provide for the prompt and orderly administration of justice by the judiciary and to announce the law on issues properly brought before it. To accomplish this goal, the Court determines cases, publishes opinions, adopts rules of procedure, provides continuing guidance for the admission and supervision of the members of the Bar, and conducts a continuous program of training and guidance for the judiciary.

Court of Appeals Judge

The Court of Appeals provides appellate review of all lower court decisions, except those excluded by RCW 2.06.030. The Court is organized into Divisions I, II, and III, with headquarters located in Seattle, Tacoma, and Spokane, respectively. Each division is divided into three districts, with a specified number of judges, each of whom is elected to a six-year term by the electorate of the district served.

The Court has exclusive appellate jurisdiction in all cases except: quo warranto, prohibition, injunction, or mandamus directed to state officials; criminal cases where the death penalty has been decreed; cases where the Superior Court has held that a statute, ordinance, or tax was unconstitutional; cases involving fundamental or urgent issues of broad public import; and cases where there is a conflict among prevailing decisions of the divisions or panels with a division.

Superior Court Judge

The Superior Courts are the courts of general jurisdiction in the state judicial system. Pursuant to the Constitution, the Legislature has divided the state into thirty-one judicial districts, each district having one or more judges as authorized by statute. Superior Court Judges are elected to a four-year term by the electorate of the county or counties served.

The Superior Courts have exclusive original jurisdiction over all civil matters involving dollar amounts over $35,000; title or possession of real property; cases involving legality of any tax, impost, assessment or toll; and probate and domestic matters. They have original jurisdiction over all criminal cases amounting to felony and all other criminal cases not otherwise provided by law; exclusive original jurisdiction over juvenile matters; and orders for protection from domestic violence. Appeals from courts of limited jurisdiction are heard de novo or appealed on the record for error of law.

Legislative Offices

State Senator

The State Constitution prescribes that a Senator must be a citizen of the United States and a qualified voter in the legislative district from which he or she was chosen. A Senator's term of office is four years; the Senate is made up of 49 members, one from each legislative district in the state. One-half of the membership of the Senate is elected at the General Election held in November of each even-numbered year.

During legislative sessions, the Legislature is called upon to: enact or reject legislation affecting public policy in the state; provide for the levy and collection of taxes and other revenue to support state government and assist local government; and appropriate funds for these purposes. The Senate also has the exclusive power to confirm certain gubernatorial appointments. Although laws are enacted only when the Legislature is convened in formal session, policy issues and the general operation of state and local government are under continuous review by legislators serving on permanent and interim study committees.

State Representative

The State Constitution prescribes that a Representative must be a citizen of the United States and a qualified voter in the legislative district from which he or she was chosen. A Representative's term of office is two years; the House is made up of 98 members, two from each legislative district in the state. The total membership of the House is elected at the General Election held in November of each even-numbered year.

During legislative sessions, the Legislature is called upon to: enact or reject legislation affecting public policy in the state; provide for the levy and collection of taxes and other revenue to support state government and assist local government; and appropriate funds for these purposes. The House also has the exclusive power to bring impeachment proceedings. Although laws are enacted only when the Legislature is convened in formal session, policy issues and the general operation of state and local government are under continuous review by legislators serving on permanent and interim study committees.

 

 

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