Let me tell ya something son, to be Maryland's best, Ya' gotta pass the State Functional Citizenship Test.
There's a lotta information I'll pass your way, And you better just listen, 'cuz the state don't play.
So stop bein' silly and stop acting naughty, While I tell about the facts of a legislative body.
In the U.S. Congress, you got senators and reps And they're both a little different; let's repeat the steps.
Senate terms are six years, and a candidate's rejected If they don't live in the state in which they are elected.
No kids can apply, acting young and flirty, 'Cuz to sit in the Senate son, ya gotta be 30.
The House of Representatives is a two-year hitch; You gotta be 25, ain't that a stitch.
The leader of the House breaks a tie in a squeaker.
His name's Tom Foley, and he serves as the Speaker.
Foley bangs his gavel all hale and hearty, And you know he was elected by the majority party.
Presiding at the Senate is a good-looking male; The vice-prez himself -- y'all know him -- Dan Quayle.
He doesn't do much there, and that's no lie.
But whenever he's needed, he can break a tie.
Now Maryland's got houses that can pass a bill, And to know about them is a real thrill.
Ya got the House of Delegates and the Senate too, And here's a little bit, y'all, of what they both do.
This is information that won't bore you to tears, In both Maryland houses, you serve four years.
Pretty soon, you'll be old enough and you can run.
In the Senate, 25. In the House, 21.
House of Delegates has a speaker; the Senate has a prez.
And both houses do what the big dude says.
Let's go back to D.C. to the federal gov.
I got some things to tell ya that you're really gonna love.
Congress coins money, passes laws and what's more, Only Congress -- LISTEN UP -- can declare we're at war.
And when the president says "This law's for the birds," They can override his veto by a vote of two-thirds.
Tax bill and impeachment both start in the House, But the Senate has powers so don't you grouse.
The Senate has the clout to confirm or reject The appointments that the president wants to protect.
Ambassadors and judges and other appointees, Have to go the the Senate and say "Pretty Please."
And if the House impeaches you, hey, you'd better not smile.
Your butt's hauled to the Senate, and you're put on trial.
If the president makes a treaty with a foreign land, The Senate ratifies it, or it turns to sand.
Ya' know, the president's the head of the executive branch, Kinda runs the federal government like his very own ranch.
He's commander-in-chief, runs foreign affairs, Prepares the federal budget and grants pardons if he cares.
Gotta be 35, be native born And live here 14 years or your hopes are forlorn.
The heads of the cabinet have lots of clout, But if the prez snaps his fingers, he can throw them out.
Now the governor of Maryland's like the president of his state.
He's got a lot of power too; he really does rate.
He signs or vetoes all the new state laws, And makes the people of Maryland rally 'round his cause.
And when the numbers are wrong, he really can't fudge it, Cuz it's he who prepares the Maryland state budget.
He appoints state judges and the members of commissions.
Lots of powerful folks owe the guv their positions.
The governor's power in the state is just tops, He controls the militia; he controls the state cops.
But when it comes to interpreting the U.S. Constitution, We have to move straight to another institution.
The judicial branch, don't hem and haw, Is the one that's empowered to interpret the law.
On top's the Supreme Court, all powerful and grand; It's the highest court that we have in the land.
All federal judges, we spare them the strife Of running for office . . . their term is for life.
If you go on trial for a federal crime, It's the federal district judge who can make you do time.
There are state courts, too, that can put you in jail.
District courts; circuit courts make drunk drivers turn pale.
At the top in our state are the big wheels Who sit on the Maryland Court of Appeals Some powers are federal; some powers are state.
To learn which is which must be your fate.
Coin money, form an army, make treaties, make war, Are things that we have the federal government for.
Getting married and divorced, drive a car, go to school; These are things the state controls; now ain't that cool?
Taxes and courts? Just how do they rate?
They're concurrent powers shared by both federal and state.
Authoritarian states just always sound bad; One party, no rights, people feeling so sad.
In a unitary state, power comes from one place.
And the government just gets in the people's face.
Secret ballot; Bill of Rights. That's the way to go.
Representative democracy. Well what do you know?
This has been some material to help y'all out.
Study hard, think a little, look it over, don't pout.
You can pass this test. I know you can.
Be a well-informed woman. Be a well-informed man.
To fail a test is to ask for more strife, So do it right once and GET ON WITH YOUR LIFE!
Editor's Note: M.C. Greenfield is a close relative of Phil Greenfield, who teaches at Annapolis High School and reviews classical music performances for The Anne Arundel County Sun. M.C. Greenfield recently fulfilled a boyhood dream when he was designated the Poet Laureate of the Annapolis High School Running Panther Basketball Team by Coach John Brady.