Three Branches of Government Under One Roof
The governor heads the executive branch. This person executes, or carries out, the laws that are made. The governor works in an office in the state capitol. This sculpture is of Robert Furnas, who became governor in 1873. For this and other accomplishments, he is a member of the Nebraska Hall of Fame. His bust and those of other famous men and women are displayed at the State Capitol.
The branch of state government which makes our laws is the legislative branch. Nebraska is the only state which has a one-house legislature. The word for this system is unicameral (uni = one + cameral = chamber). Nebraska adopted the unicameral system in 1934.
It took time to work out the details. The one-house legislature first met in 1937 (see photo above). The builders of the new capitol had planned for a two-house legislature and had built two large rooms, or chambers, in which they could meet. Only one is needed now for our state senators.
The state supreme court is part of the judicial branch. Seven judges hear legal cases involving people from across the state. Their judgments help explain the laws. Their courtroom is also in the state capitol. You may take a free tour of your state capitol. One of the places you will see is the supreme court chamber - if the judges are not working that day!
As you walk through the north door of the capitol, you will see this carved in stone. The motto reads "The Salvation of the State is Watchfulness in the Citizen." The sculpture is called "Spirit of the Pioneers." Oxen pull a covered wagon as a family walks west.
As a citizen of the state of Nebraska, you have a responsibility - like the pioneers before you - to take part in the workings of your government. Can you name ways in which this can be done?