- the branch of government having the power to make laws; the legislature.
The branch of the federal and state government empowered to make the laws that are then enforced by the executive branch and interpreted by the judicial branch. The legislative branch consists of Congress and the fifty state legislatures. At both state and federal levels, legislatures are made up of popularly elected representatives, who propose laws that are sensitive to the needs and interests of their local constituents. After a law is proposed as a bill, it is sent to appropriate committees for several stages of discussion, research, and modification. It is then debated in both legislative houses — except in Nebraska, which has a single-house legislature — and put to a vote. If the law is passed, it is still subject to further modification and final vote by both houses. Under the system of checks and balances, the president can refuse to sign the bill into law (through the veto power). The legislature can then vote to override the veto. Other checks and balances include legislative powers to impeach public officials (see impeachment), confirm appointments to the executive and judicial branches, and vote on appropriations.