Georgia State Senate
|Georgia State Senate|
|2015 session start:||January 12, 2015|
|Website:||Official Senate Page|
|Senate President:||Casey Cagle (R)|
|Majority Leader:||Bill Cowsert (R)|
|Minority Leader:||Steve Henson (D)|
Democratic Party (18)
Republican Party (38)
|Length of term:||2 years|
|Authority:||Art III, Section 4, Georgia Constitution|
|Salary:||$17,342/year + per diem|
|Last Election:||November 4, 2014 (56 seats)|
|Next election:||November 8, 2016 (56 seats)|
|Redistricting:||Georgia Legislature has control|
- 1 Sessions
- 2 Ethics and transparency
- 3 Elections
- 4 Redistricting
- 5 Senators
- 6 Standing Senate Committees
- 7 History
- 8 See also
- 9 External links
- 10 References
The senate includes 56 state senators, each representing an average of 172,994 residents, as of the 2010 Census. After the 2000 Census, each member represented 157,437 residents. The lieutenant governor serves as president of the Georgia State Senate and is granted the right to vote in the event the Senate is tied on a vote. In accordance with Paragraph 5, Section II, Article III of the Georgia Constitution, Georgia state senators serve two-year terms without term limits.
The Georgia Senate convenes on the second Monday of January each year and by law can meet for no longer than 40 legislative days.
As of April 2015, Georgia is one of 23 Republican state government trifectas.
Section 4 of Article III of the Georgia Constitution establishes when the Georgia General Assembly, which the Senate is a part of, is to meet in regular session. The General Assembly must convene annually by the second Monday in January, and its sessions can last for only forty legislative days. Prefiling begins November 15 and runs until the start of the session.
- See also: Dates of 2015 state legislative sessions
In 2015, the Legislature was in session from January 12 through April 2.
Major issues during the 2015 legislative session included medical marijuana, driver's licenses for those with lawful alien status and another look at Sen. Joshua McKoon's (R) religious freedom bill that created controversy in the last session. Medical marijuana previously stalled in the legislature after the two chambers could not agree on a bill.
- See also: Dates of 2014 state legislative sessions
In 2014, the Legislature was in session from January 13 through March 21.
Major issues during the 2014 legislative session included moving up the state primary date to match the federal one, the state budget, and increases to K-12 education funding.
- See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions
In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 14 through March 29.
Major issues during the 2013 legislative session included juvenile-justice reform, regulation of coin-operated video games, ethics reform and a budget that was previously facing a $700 million deficit.
- See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions
In 2012, the Senate was in regular session from January 9 through March 29.
- See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions
In 2011, the Senate was in regular session from January 10 through April 14. Governor Nathan Deal called the legislature into special session for August 15 to consider congressional and legislative redistricting plans based on the 2010 census.
- See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions
In 2010, the Senate was in session from January 11th to April 29th.
Role in state budget
- See also: Georgia state budget and finances
- In July of the year preceding the start of the new fiscal year, the governor sends budget instructions to state agencies.
- In September agencies submit their budget requests to the governor.
- Budget hearings are held with state agencies in November and December.
- Public hearings are held in late January.
- In January the governor submits his or her proposed budget to the state legislature.
- The legislature adopts a budget in March or April, effective for the fiscal year beginning in July. A simple majority is required to pass a budget.
The governor is constitutionally required to submit a balanced budget to the legislature. In turn, the legislature must pass a balanced budget, and any budget signed into law by the governor must be balanced.
The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative released a report in July 2013 indicating that cost-benefit analysis in policymaking led to more effective uses of public funds. Looking at data from 2008 through 2011, the study's authors found that some states were more likely to use cost-benefit analysis, while others were facing challenges and lagging behind the rest of the nation. The challenges states faced included a lack of time, money and technical skills needed to conduct comprehensive cost-benefit analyses. Georgia was one of 29 states with mixed results regarding the frequency and effectiveness in its use of cost-benefit analysis.
Ethics and transparency
Following the Money report
- See also: "Following the Money" report, 2014
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a consumer-focused nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., released its annual report on state transparency websites in April 2014. The report, entitled "Following the Money," measured how transparent and accountable state websites are with regard to state government spending. According to the report, Georgia received a grade of C and a numerical score of 74, indicating that Georgia was "middling" in terms of transparency regarding state spending.
Open States Transparency
The Sunlight Foundation released an "Open Legislative Data Report Card" in March 2013. Georgia was given a grade of A in the report. The report card evaluated how adequate, complete and accessible legislative data was to the general public. A total of 10 states received an A: Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington.
- See also: Georgia State Senate elections, 2014
Elections for the office of Georgia State Senate took place in 2014. A primary election took place on May 20, 2014 with a runoff election taking place where necessary on July 22, 2014. The general election was held on November 4, 2014. The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in this election was March 7, 2014.
- See also: Georgia State Senate elections, 2012
This chamber was mentioned in a November 2012 Pew Center on the States article that addressed supermajorities at stake in the 2012 election. Supermajority generally means a party controls two-thirds of all seats. While it varies from state to state, being in this position gives a party much greater power. Going into the election, Republicans in the Georgia Senate held a solid majority and looked to obtain a supermajority.
The following table details the 10 districts with the smallest margin of victory in the November 6 general election.
|2012 Margin of Victory, Georgia State Senate|
|District||Winner||Margin of Victory||Total Votes||Top Opponent|
|District 6||Hunter Hill||5.6%||71,235||Doug Stoner|
|District 23||Jesse Stone||19%||66,438||Robert Ingham|
|District 9||Don Balfour||23.6%||75,177||Scott Drake|
|District 8||Tim Golden||24.1%||58,799||Bikram Mohanty|
|District 17||Rick Jeffares||25.5%||74,998||Nelva Lee|
|District 25||Burt Jones||27.4%||70,367||Darrell Black|
|District 56||John Albers||34.5%||71,583||Akhtar Sadiq|
|District 47||Frank Ginn||34.9%||61,622||Tim Riley|
|District 26||David E. Lucas, Sr.||36.6%||62,479||Bobby Gale|
|District 7||Tyler Harper||43.1%||56,072||Donald Mitchell|
- See also: Georgia State Senate elections, 2010
The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in these elections was June 21, 2010, and the primary Election Day was July 20, 2010.
The partisan breakdown of the Senate before and after the election was as follows:
|Georgia State Senate|
|Party||As of November 1, 2010||After the 2010 Election|
In 2010, the total amount of contributions raised in senate campaigns was $8,052,144. The top 10 donors were:
|2010 Donors, Georgia State Senate|
|Georgia Trial Lawyers Association||$88,350|
|Georgia Dental Association||$65,950|
|Georgia Association of Realtors||$64,550|
|Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia||$49,550|
|Independend Insurance Agents of Georgia||$48,350|
|Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals||$46,000|
- See also: Georgia State Senate elections, 2008
Elections for the office of Georgia State Senate consisted of a primary election on July 15, 2008, and a general election on November 4, 2008.
During the 2008 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $6,636,658. The top 10 contributors were:
|2008 Donors, Georgia State Senate|
|Georgia Association of Realtors||$99,150|
|Georgia Trial Lawyers Association||$96,000|
|Georgia Medical Association||$84,050|
|Jones, Emanuel D||$80,746|
|Georgia Dental Association||$70,100|
|Home Builders Association of Georgia||$68,500|
|Georgia Hospital Association||$64,900|
|Hospital Corp of America||$63,000|
|Independent Insurance Agents of Georgia||$58,837|
|Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals||$57,000|
- See also: Georgia State Senate elections, 2006
Elections for the office of Georgia State Senate consisted of a primary election on July 19, 2006, and a general election on November 7, 2006.
During the 2006 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $9,986,678. The top 10 contributors were:
|2006 Donors, Georgia State Senate|
|Moody, Dan A||$202,000|
|Georgia Trial Lawyers Association||$103,500|
|Georgia Association of Realtors||$87,800|
|Home Builders Association of Georgia||$80,000|
|Georgia Hospital Association||$75,750|
|Georgia Dental Association||$72,900|
|Thompson, Stephen P||$63,187|
- See also: Georgia State Senate elections, 2004
Elections for the office of Georgia State Senate consisted of a primary election on July 20, 2004, and a general election on November 2, 2004.
During the 2004 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $14,444,474. The top 10 contributors were:
|2004 Donors, Georgia State Senate|
|Cooper, Lance A||$233,000|
|Georgia Trial Lawyers Association||$153,250|
|Pearson Jr, Eugene E||$152,000|
|Kaye, Mitchell Adam||$150,000|
|Staton Jr, Cecil P||$116,000|
|Georgia Medical Association||$105,250|
|Georgia Association of Realtors||$86,850|
- See also: Georgia State Senate elections, 2002
Elections for the office of Georgia State Senate consisted of a primary election on August 20, 2002, and a general election on November 5, 2002.
During the 2002 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $11,060,487. The top 10 contributors were:
|2002 Donors, Georgia State Senate|
|Unterman, Renee S||$549,199|
|Stevens, Joyce C||$404,284|
|Georgia Trial Lawyers Association||$111,000|
|Georgia Medical Association||$105,250|
|Georgia Dental Association||$71,650|
|Georgia Association Of Realtors||$70,350|
|Georgia Apartment Association||$61,300|
- See also: Georgia State Senate elections, 2000
Elections for the office of Georgia State Senate consisted of a primary election on July 18, 2000, and a general election on November 7, 2000.
During the 2000 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $7,534,666. The top 10 contributors were:
|2000 Donors, Georgia State Senate|
|Georgia Medical Association||$68,350|
|Georgia Association of Realtors||$58,700|
|Georgia Hospital Association||$52,550|
|Georgia Optometric Association||$49,750|
|Georgia Republican Senatorial Trust||$48,202|
|Georgia Association of Educators||$46,300|
|Lindsey Jr, Edward H||$41,797|
According to the Georgia Constitution, Georgia Senators must be at least 25 years old, American citizens, Georgia citizens for at least two years and a resident of his or her Senatorial District for at least one year immediately preceding election.
| How Vacancies are filled in State Legislatures |
If there is a vacancy in the Senate, the vacant seat must be filled by a special election. The Governor must declare a special election no later than 10 days after the vacancy happened. The election must be held no less than 30 days and no later than 60 days after the Governor calls for the election. The counties representing the vacant district are responsible for conducting the election.
The task of redistricting falls on the General Assembly; in the Senate, it is the responsibility of the Reapportionment and Redistricting Committee. Maps must be pre-cleared by the U.S. Department of Justice per the Voting Rights Act.
The state's population grew 18.3 percent to over 9.7 million residents. While the maps moved through the Assembly without major disruption, Democrats complained that the maps were designed to get rid of white Democratic legislators through the creation of seven Voting Rights Act districts. On August 23, 2011, each chamber approved the other's plan, and Governor Nathan Deal signed the maps into law the next day. The DoJ pre-cleared the maps on December 23, 2011.
- See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries
As of 2013, members of the Georgia legislature are paid $17,342/year plus $173/day for per diem when in session.
When sworn in
Georgia legislators assume office the second Monday in January.
- See also: Partisan composition of state senates
|Party||As of April 2015|
Standing Senate Committees
Georgia Senate has 27 standing committees for the 2015-2016 session:
- Agriculture and Consumer Affairs
- Banking and Financial Institutions
- Economic Development and Tourism
- Education and Youth
- Government Oversight
- Health and Human Services
- Higher Education
- Insurance and Labor
- Interstate Cooperation
- Judiciary Non-Civil
- Natural Resources and the Environment
- Public Safety
- Reapportionment and Redistricting
- Regulated Industries and Utilities
- Science and Technology
- Special Judiciary
- State and Local Governmental Operations
- State Institutions and Property
- Urban Affairs
- Veterans, Military and Homeland Security
Partisan balance 1992-2013
From 1992-2013, the Democratic Party was the majority in the Georgia State Senate for the first 11 years and the Republicans were the majority for the second 11 years. During the final nine years of the study, Georgia was under Republican trifectas.
Across the country, there were 541 Democratic and 517 Republican state senates from 1992 to 2013.
Over the course of the 22-year study, state governments became increasingly more partisan. At the outset of the study period (1992), 18 of the 49 states with partisan legislatures had single-party trifectas and 31 states had divided governments. In 2013, only 13 states had divided governments, while single-party trifectas held sway in 36 states, the most in the 22 years studied.
SQLI and partisanship
Georgia was one of eight states to demonstrate a dramatic partisan shift in the 22 years studied. A dramatic shift was defined by a movement of 40 percent or more toward one party over the course of the study period.
The chart below depicts the partisanship of the Georgia state government and the state's SQLI ranking for the years studied. For the SQLI, the states were ranked from 1-50, with 1 being the best and 50 the worst. Georgia experienced two long periods of trifecta government, both Democratic and Republican, between the years 1992 and 2002 (Democratic) and again between the years 2002 and 2013 (Republican). The state’s lowest SQLI ranking occurred in 1992 (40th) under a Democratic trifecta, while its highest SQLI ranking occurred in 2007 (20th) under a Republican trifecta. Georgia experienced only two years of divided government, in 2003 and 2004, when the state house was under Democratic control. The state experienced its largest jump in the SQLI ranking between 2000 and 2001 (from 33rd to 27th) under a Democratic trifecta.
- SQLI average with Democratic trifecta: 33.27
- SQLI average with Republican trifecta: 22.75
- SQLI average with divided government: 27.00
- Georgia House of Representatives
- Governor of Georgia
- Georgia State Legislature
- Georgia Constitution
- Georgia State Senate official website
- Official list of Georgia State Senators
- Wikipedia: 153rd General Assembly of the State of Georgia
- U.S. Census Bureau, "Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010," accessed January 6, 2014
- U.S. Census Bureau, "States Ranked by Population: 2000," April 2, 2001
- Justia, "Georgia Constitution," accessed April 21, 2015(Article III, Section 4)
- WRBL, "A preview of the 2015 Georgia legislative session," January 16, 2015
- onlineathens.com, "Budget, education among top Georgia legislative issues," January 12, 2014
- onlineathens.com, "Some win, some lose in Georgia legislative session," May 30, 2013
- ncsl.org, "2011 Legislative Sessions Calendar," accessed April 21, 2015
- National Conference of State Legislatures, "State Experiences with Annual and Biennial Budgeting," updated April 2011
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "Budget Processes in the States, Summer 2008," accessed February 21, 2014
- Pew Charitable Trusts, "States’ Use of Cost-Benefit Analysis," July 29, 2013
- U.S. Public Interest Research Group, "Following the Money 2014 Report," accessed April 15, 2014
- Sunlight Foundation, "Ten Principles for Opening Up Government Information," accessed June 16, 2013
- PEW Charitable Trusts, "In Legislative Elections, Majorities and Supermajorities at Stake," November 2, 2012
- Follow the Money, "Georgia Senate 2010 Campaign Contributions," accessed April 21, 2015
- Follow the Money, "Georgia 2008 Candidates," accessed July 17, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Georgia 2006 Candidates," accessed July 17, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Georgia 2004 Candidates," accessed July 17, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Georgia 2002 Candidates," accessed July 17, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Georgia 2000 Candidates," accessed July 17, 2013
- Lexis Nexis, "The Code of Georgia," accessed December 16, 2013(Referenced Statute, 21-2-544, Search for 21-2-544 under Table of Contents)
- NCSL.org, "2012 State Legislator Compensation and Per Diem Table," accessed March 18, 2013
- Georgia State Senate, "Senate leadership," accessed April 21, 2015
State of Georgia
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