Policy 101

Need a refresher in public policy and how it works? This section starts with some background information on the structure of the U.S. Government and how laws are made.

Through legislative analysis, debate, and compromise, the U.S. Congress makes laws. The system of laws, regulatory mandates and actions that shape our daily lives is known as public policy. Public policy is meant to address the health, safety, and welfare of our nation’s citizens and often has widespread social and economic impacts. Public policy is considered ‘strong’ when it solves problems efficiently and effectively, serves justice, supports governmental institutions and policies, and encourages active citizenship.


For more information about the legislative process, see the following video from Congress.Gov:

Most citizens have more daily contact with their state and local governments than with the federal government. Police and fire departments, schools, libraries- not to mention drivers licenses and parking tickets- usually fall under the oversight of state and local government. Each state has it’s own written constitution, and these documents are often far more elaborate than their federal counterpart.

Did you know? Missouri’s Constitution is nearly 8 times longer than the U.S. Constitution. 

The 10th amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives all powers not granted by the federal government to the states and to the people. All state governments are modeled after the federal government and consist of 3 branches: Executive, Legislative, and Judicial.

Executive Branch: Lead by Governor Greitens who was elected by the residents of Missouri in 2017.

Legislative Branch: Bicameral legislature made up of a smaller upper house (Senators) and a larger lower house (Representatives). Legislators are elected representatives who not only create and vote legislation into law, but also approve state budgets and initiate tax legislation and articles of impeachment.

Judicial Branch: The state supreme court hears appeals from lower-level state courts.

Learn more about state and local government at Whitehouse.gov.

Still interested in learning more? Enjoy the CrashCourse in U.S. Government and Politics series, starting with this introductory video below (Produced in collaboration with PBS Digital Studios).