What is the purpose of "bicameral" state legislatures?

It keeps the Stat Legislatures from becoming self-aware and achieving individual consciousness.

Apologies to Julian Jaynes, who’s dead anyway.

Minor nitpick: you mean the “division of British North America” (which you go on to describe). The US wasn’t divided into states, it was formed from the preexisting states.

Thanks for all of your input. It’s all becoming more clear. The last time I had a civics class was probably 1973!

I took notes on everything I learned and printed them out to keep next to a sheet of my party’s endorsements for November 2018.

Now I’m off to look up the voting records of each politician listed on the endorsement sheet.

I should note that my whole project of becoming a more knowledgeable voter was inspired by the vehement tribalism we’re seeing today. I don’t want to be one of those people who votes for whoever is up for their party, no matter what their background or record. I don’t expect to discover that any of the candidates on my list are complete bastards, but neither do I want to vote blindly.

Bicameral state legislatures evolved from bicameral colonial legislatures, which in turn were modeled on the bicameral British Parliament. Some colonial legislatures even preserved the appointive (although not hereditary) character of the British House of Lords; for example, Virginia from 1642 had an elected House of Burgesses and an appointed Council of State.

By the time of independence, state upper houses had become elective as well. However, state constitutions usually retained some combination of the following, to make the state Senate more “elitist” and more insulated from the vagaries of popular opinion:

[ul]stricter property qualifications for voting in Senate elections[/ul][ul]stricter property qualifications for serving in the state Senate[/ul][ul]longer terms for Senators, so that the entire Senate wasn’t up for reelection in any given year[/ul][ul]fewer Senators, representing larger districts[/ul]

Pennsylvania, by the accidents of history, had a unicameral colonial legislature, and retained it for a time after independence. However a conservative reaction set in, and Pennsylvania established a state Senate in 1790.

Property qualifications, either for voting or for serving in office, have vanished into history, so the first two bullets in the above list obviously no longer apply. But the remaining two bullet points distinguish state Houses and Senates even today.

Does it matter any more? Probably not. Nebraska, the Canadian provinces, New Zealand, and many other places get along just fine with unicameral legislatures, and they aren’t exactly hotbeds of mob rule. However habit, inertia, and fear of concentrating power in too few hands will probably ensure that we have bicameral legislatures as long as we have American states.

You are to be commended for your diligence, no snarky intended. If more folks put the time and effort to learn about our “leaders” and how government workd, I suspect we might have better representation.

Just remember that if you can’t find someone to vote for, look for someone to vote against.

Good luck with your learning and choices

I’d disagree with that last statement.
That usually leads to voting for someone based on 30-second attack ads, which usually come from those with more money.

I’d say that if you don’t have the time or inclination to do the extensive research teela is doing, then figure out which political party you agree with the most, and just vote for their endorsed candidates. Parties generally endorse candidates who are fairly consistent in supporting the same issues in their party platform.

I am about to cast a ballot in the Quebec election and I will vote against all them, ruining my ballot by writing in “none of the above”. The Liberals have ruined health care; the right wing CAQ wants to substantially reduce immigration, for trumpian reasons, although they really need immigrants to fund my health care and the other two significant parties are more-or-less openly anti-semitic. You can object to that claim, but I see what I see. This is not based on attack ads; I never see them anyway since I hardly watch TV and the curling season hasn’t yet begun.

One of those parties is going to win, right? So what’s the practical effect of withholding your vote?

Well you just answered your question. Yes it does matter if what you want is to limit the power of any particular elected official or elective body.

The entire constitution is structured to divide power, and a bicameral legislature does exactly that.

It doesn’t guarantee any particular outcome in terms of the ultimate fate of a country. But of course it matters, because it has practical consequences for those who wish to exercise power in the system. They have to do certain things that they wouldn’t have had to do without divided power.

I agree in the context of the substantive differences in who senators and legislators represent and how they are elected having mainly disappeared.

It would be a long tome to list this for every state but it seems the differences are mainly trivial now, nothing to compare to the difference in federal Senators representing states on a 2 per state basis for 6 yr terms v Representatives representing approximately population-equal districts for 2 yr terms. Although the original federal distinction was also significantly eroded by the 17th amendment providing for direct election rather than selection of federal Senators by the state legislators.

In my state NJ, the distinction between the senate and legislature is entirely trivial and has been for decades. Each of the 40 election districts elect one senator and two assemblymen at the same time for terms of the same length (elections occur on a 2-4-4yr cycle to synchronize them with reapportionment via the US census). At one time there were other more significant differences in election and powers. But in general as others have referred to, except in states which were also British colonies and had a locally elected lower house and a Crown appointed upper house, there was never as good a reason for bicameral state legislatures as for the bicameral US Congress*. There’s no direct analog within states to the concept of the states as sovereign entities, quasi-equal members of the federal union.

*although another thing to note is that all state legislatures were not based on the federal system, not in states which existed before it.

I laughed.