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Initiative & referendum in the U.S.

Initiate constitutional amendmentsLegislatively-referred constitutional amendmentsInitiated state statutesLegislatively-referred state statutesVeto referendumStatewide recallRight of statute affirmationRight of citizen-initiated grand jury empanelment
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 sub-national entities of the United States. Additionally, there are four U.S. territories - Puerto Rico, Guam, United States Virgin Islands and Northern Mariana Islands.

State governments | Initiative & referendum in the U.S. | Origin of states' names

State governments

See also: U.S. Constitution and Congress

States can organize their state governments any way they like, as long as they conform to the sole requirement of the U.S. Constitution that they have "a Republican Form of Government." In practice, each state has adopted a three branch system of government generally along the sames lines as that of the federal government -- though this is not a requirement.

Nebraska, for example, has a unicameral legislature.


See also: Alabama


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New Hampshire

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New Jersey

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New York

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North Carolina

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Rhode Island

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West Virginia

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Initiative & referendum in the U.S.

Main page: Laws governing ballot measures
Portal:Ballot Measures

Initiate constitutional amendments

Eighteen states where citizens can initiated constitutional amendment, they are: Arizona | Arkansas | California | Colorado | Florida | Illinois | Massachusetts
Michigan | Mississippi | Missouri | Montana | Nebraska | Nevada | North Dakota
Ohio | Oklahoma | Oregon | South Dakota

Legislatively-referred constitutional amendments

Every state except for Delaware has legislatively-referred constitutional amendments.

Initiated state statutes

Twenty-one states where citizens can start an initiated state statute, they are:

Alaska | Arizona | Arkansas | California | Colorado | Idaho | Maine | Massachusetts | Michigan | Missouri | Montana | Nebraska
Nevada | North Dakota | Ohio | Oklahoma | Oregon | South Dakota | Utah | Washington | Wyoming

Legislatively-referred state statutes

Twenty-four states and one unincorporated organized territory with legislatively-referred state statute, they are:

Arizona | Arkansas | California | Colorado | Delaware | Idaho | Illinois | Kentucky | Maine | Maryland | Massachusetts | Michigan | Missouri
Montana | Nebraska | Nevada | New Mexico | North Dakota | Ohio | Oklahoma | Oregon | Puerto Rico | South Dakota | Utah | Washington

Veto referendum

Twenty-five states where citizens can overturn state statutes through veto referendum, they are:

Alaska | Arizona | Arkansas | California | Colorado | Idaho | Kentucky | Maine | Maryland
Massachusetts | Michigan | Missouri | Montana | Nebraska | Nevada | New Mexico | North Dakota | Ohio
Oklahoma | Oregon | South Dakota | Utah | Washington | Washington, D.C. | Wyoming

Statewide recall

See also: Laws governing recall

Eighteen states with the right of statewide recall, they are:

Arizona | Alaska | California | Colorado | Georgia | Idaho | Kansas | Louisiana | Michigan | Minnesota
Montana | Nevada | New Jersey | North Dakota | Oregon | Rhode Island | Washington | Wisconsin

Right of statute affirmation

One state with the right of statute affirmation - Nevada

Right of citizen-initiated grand jury empanelment

Six states and one unincorporated organized territory with the right of citizen-initiated grand jury empanelment, they are: Kansas | Nebraska | Nevada | New Mexico | North Dakota | Oklahoma | Puerto Rico

Origin of states' names

State names speak to the circumstances of their creation.


Some states on the Atlantic coast originated from British colonies named after British monarchs: Georgia, the Carolinas, Virginia, and Maryland. Others, also former British colonies, take their names from places in the British Isles: New Hampshire, New Jersey, and New York. Pennsylvania, meaning "Penn's woods," in Latin, takes its name from the father of its founder, William Penn. Delaware is named after Thomas West, Lord De La Warr, an early colonist and governor of the Jamestown Colony.

Native American

Many states' names are those of Native American tribes or are from Native American languages: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, the Dakotas, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin and others. Additionally, the name of Idaho was presented as a Native American word by eccentric lobbyist George M. Willing, though it was later revealed that he likely made it up. Indiana means literally "land of Indians."


Because they are on territories previously controlled by Spain or Mexico, many states in the southeast and southwest have Spanish names. They include Colorado, Florida, Nevada, Montana, and, ultimately of Native American origin, New Mexico. California is also believed to be of Spanish origin, though this is not entirely clear.


Because it was previously a French colony, Louisiana is named after Louis XIV (the King of France at the time). Maine may also be named after the historical French province of Maine, although another theory derives "Maine" from "mainland," differentiating it from the outlying islands. Vermont is derived from the French term for "green mountains," a reference to its mountainous but forested terrain.


Formally referred to as the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Rhode Island likely gained its name through the supposed similarity of Aquidneck Island (the body of land known as Rhode Island, which contains the city of Newport and the towns of Portsmouth and Middletown) to the Greek Isle of Rhodes, however as it was originally an offshoot of the Dutch colony of Nieu Netherlands, it is more likely the name is an Anglicization of the Dutch name for the place, "Rhodt" or simply "Red Island," which probably referred to the color of the soil there. Providence Plantations, which makes reference to the mainland that surrounds Narragansett Bay, was named by its religious founders for God's divine providence.[1] The state of Washington was named after George Washington.[2] Arizona may come from a Basque term, or it may be of Native American origin.[3] The name Hawaii came from Hawaiʻiloa, legendary discoverer of the Hawaiian islands.

Origin unknown

The origin of Oregon is not certain, although various theories exist, but is most likely to be of Native American or French origin.[4]

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