The powers and functions of the Legislative Assembly may be examined under the following heads.
1. Legislative Powers:
The main function of the Legislative Assembly is to make laws. But its power to make laws is confined to the State List and the Concurrent List. However, the Parliament has also jurisdiction over the Concurrent List.
Where a law made by the state legislature on a matter listed in the Concurrent List conflicts with law made by the Parliament on the same matter, the latter will prevail, if the state law has not received the assent of the President.
Normally the Parliament has no jurisdiction over the State List. But during Emergency the Parliament can make laws on the State List. Even in normal times the Parliament shall be competent to make laws on the State List if the Council of States (Rajya Sabha), by two-third majority adopts a resolution urging the Parliament to make laws, in national interest, on subjects listed in the State List.
Further, the Governor has discretion to reserve some bills, passed by the state legislature, for the assent of the President of India. If such a bill, returned by the President for reconsideration by the state legislature, is again sent to the President by the state legislature for his assent, he is not bound to give assent to it.
He may or may not give his assent to the bill. If the President does not give his assent second time, the bill is rejected. Thus the President can veto, if he desires, some bills passed by the state legislature.
Two things now stand clear. First, the lawmaking power of the state legislature is not absolute; it is limited. Secondly, the lawmaking power is shared by the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council in a state having a bicameral legislature. However, in respect of lawmaking, the Legislative Assembly has stronger voice than the Legislative Council.
2. Financial Powers:
The Money Bill can be introduced only in the Legislative Assembly. It cannot be introduced in the Legislative Council. The Council can detain a Money Bill at the maximum for 14 days. The Legislative Assembly is required to pass the demand for grants (authorizing expenditures) and tax-raising proposals.
Without authorization by the Legislative Assembly, no money can be spent from the State Treasury. In financial matters, the Legislative Assembly is clearly more powerful than the Legislative Council.
3. Control over Executive:
The Ministers are collectively responsible to the Legislative Assembly and not to the Legislative Council. They will be forced to resign if a no-confidence motion is passed by the Legislative Assembly. Further, if the Money Bill is defeated in the Legislative Assembly the Ministers resign.
The members of the Assembly can control the government by other means like asking questions and moving cut motions and adjournment motions. The Assembly has thus better control over the government than the Council.
4. Constituent Power:
In the United States of America, both the Congress and the state legislatures can propose amendments of the constitution. But in India it is only the Parliament which can propose amendment. The state legislatures cannot propose amendments. However, some amendments, relating to federal provisions, require ratification by at least one-half of state legislatures.
If a state has a bicameral legislature, then the amendment bill has to be ratified by both Houses – Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council. Thus, the state legislatures have limited powers in relation to the amendment of the constitution.
5. Electoral Functions:
(i) The elected members of the Legislative Assembly form part of the Electoral College which elects the President of India. This means that the members of Legislative Council have no role in the election of the President of India, (ii) The members of Rajya Sabha representing the state are elected by the Legislative Assembly, (iii) In case of a State having a bicameral legislature, one-third of the members of the Legislative Council are elected by the Legislative Assembly, (iv) The Speaker and the Deputy Speaker are also elected by the members of the Legislative Assembly.
6. Miscellaneous Functions:
(a) The Legislative Assembly can punish anybody for its contempt. (b) It selects some of the members of University Senate (s). (c) It considers the reports of the Public Service Commission and the Accountant General, (d) It appoints different Committees of the House, (e) It sends delegations to the Union Government to press the demands of the state.