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[[Category:State legislatures, Georgia]]
[[Category:State legislatures, Georgia]]

Revision as of 11:03, 8 July 2010

State executive officials
State legislatures
The Georgia General Assembly is the state legislature of Georgia. It is bicameral, being composed of the Georgia House of Representatives and the Georgia Senate.

In 2010, the General Assembly was in session from January 11th to April 29th.[1]

Legislative process


See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions

The Georgia legislature must convene annually by the second Monday in January. The session can last for only forty days.[2] Prefiling begins November 15 and runs until the start of the session.


The General Assembly, which is the legislative branch of the state's government, was created in 1777 during the American Revolution, making it older than the U.S. Congress. During its existence the Assembly has moved five different times as the state capital changed locations. The first location the Assembly served in was Savannah, then Augusta and Louisville, from there to Milledgeville and finally to Atlanta in 1868.[3]

The General Assembly in Savannah

By January of 1776, Savannah had become the capital of Georgia when the former colony declared independence from Britain. The legislature, a unicameral body, met there in 1777 and 1778 only to retreat to Augusta when the British captured the city. Yet, they were not settled long in that city when, in 1779, the British captured Augusta. The city of Augusta changed hands three times during the war, finally returning to American possession in July of 1781. They stayed in Augusta until May 1782 when the British left Savannah, thus allowing the legislature to return to the capital.[4]

Move to Augusta

Between 1783 and 1785, the Georgia General Assembly met in both Savannah and Augusta; the primary cause for the moves arose when tensions were created between the cities of Savannah and Augusta causing then Governor Lyman Hall to officially reside in both places. On February 22, 1785, the General Assembly held its last meeting in Savannah. Augusta had become the official capital because of pressure from the general populace to have their capital in the center of the state.[5]

On to Louisville

With the spread of the population, it was felt that Georgia's capital needed to move as well. A commission was appointed by the legislature in 1786 to find a place that was centrally located. The commission recommended Louisville, which would become Georgia's first planned capital and would hold her first capitol building. Due to the fact that the capital would have to be built from the ground up, and because of numerous construction delays, it took a decade to build the city. The name Louisville was chosen by the General Assembly in honor of King Louis XVI for France's aid during the Revolutionary War.

The new state house, a two-story 18th century Gregorian building of red brick, was completed in 1796. The Legislature designated Louisville the "permanent seat" of Georgia government. Yet, further western expansion created the need for another new state capital. The capitol building was purchased by Jefferson County and used as a courthouse, but the building had to be torn down because it became unsound. A plaque marks the location of the old Capitol.[6]

The Assembly arrives in Milledgeville

In 1804, the state government realized that yet another capital, would be needed. As a result, An act was passed which authorized a new capital city to be built on 3,240 acres in the area currently known as Baldwin County. The new city was named Milledgeville in honor of Governor John Milledge.

The new capitol building took two years to build. The capitol was a Gothic Revival style building made of brick. The legislature passed the Secession Act on January 19, 1861 and joined the Confederacy while serving in that capitol at Milledgeville. With General Sherman's approach, the members of the General Assembly adjourned in the fall of 1864, later reconvening briefly in Macon in 1865. As the American Civil War finally came to a close and with the federal government controlling Georgia’s government, the legislature reconvened at the Capitol in Milledgeville.[7]


In 1867, Major General John Pope, military governor of Georgia, called for an assembly in Atlanta to discuss a constitutional convention. It was at this time that Atlanta officials again moved to make the city Georgia's new state capital. The constitutional convention agreed and the people voted to ratify the decision on April 20, 1868. The Georgia General Assembly first presided in Atlanta on July 4, 1868.

In 1884 the legislature appropriated one million dollars to build a new state capitol. Construction began on October 26, 1884 and the building was completed and occupied on June 15, 1889.[8]



See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries

As of 2010, members of the Georgia legislature are paid $17,342/year plus $173/day for per diem when in session.[9]

The $17,342/year that Georgia legislators are paid as of 2010 is the same as they were paid during legislative sessions in 2007. Per diem is also the same. [10]

When sworn in

See also: When state legislators assume office after a general election

Georgia legislators assume office the second Monday in January.

Organization and procedure

The General Assembly meets in regular session on the second Monday in January for no longer than 40 days each year. Neither the House nor the Senate can adjourn during a regular session for longer than three days or meet in any place other than the state capitol without the other house's consent.

Role in State Budget

Main article: Alabama state budget

By the end of January of each year, the Georgia General Assembly receives an annual budget proposal from the Governor. The annual budget proposal is for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1st. The Assembly then revises this budget over the course of the next couple of months. In March or April, the Legislature votes on a budget. For a budget to pass, a majority of legislatures must vote in support of it [11]

In the midst of recent economic hard times, the Georgia Assembly has struggled to put together and pass a balanced budget. The Georgia Budget and Policy Institute (GBPI) predicts the fiscal year 2010 budget will be $1.2 billion short above and beyond the cuts made during its passage. GBPI estimates a deficit of $740 million for FY 2011, at which time the state will not have any reserve funds available and less federal stimulus money to cushion the impact.[12]

Rules of procedure

Both houses of the General Assembly may determine procedural rules provide for its employees. The General Assembly as a whole, or each house separately, has the ability to create interim committees.

Oath of office

Before taking office senators and representatives must take the oath (or in some cases an affirmation) stipulated by the law.


A majority of the members to which each house is entitled shall constitute a quorum to transact business. A smaller number may adjourn from day to day and compel the presence of its absent members.


Whenever a vacancy occurs in the General Assembly, an event that occurs whenever a member moves from the district from which he was elected, it is filled according to Georgia law and the Constitution.


Members of the General Assembly receive salaries provided by law, so long as that salary does not increase before the end of the term during which the increase becomes effective.

Election and returns; disorderly conduct

Both houses hold the responsibility of judging the election, returns, and qualifications of their members. Also,both houses have the power to punish members for disorderly misconduct. Punishments for such conduct are:

  • censure
  • fine
  • imprisonment
  • expulsion

However, no member can be expelled without a vote of two-thirds of the members of the house the member belongs to.


When a person is guilty of contempt, the individual may be imprisoned if ordered by either the House or the Senate.

Elections by either house

All elections of the General Assembly are to be recorded. The recorded vote then appears in the journal of each house.

Open meetings

Sessions of the General Assembly, including committee meetings, are open to the public except when either house makes an exception.


The Georgia General Assembly began as a unicameral body in 1777 but changed to a bicameral legislature in 1789. It is now made up of a Senate (the upper house) and a House of Representatives (the lower house).

Qualifications for election

The Georgia Constitution stipulates that members of the Senate must be citizens of the United States, at least 25 years old, a citizen of the state of Georgia for at least two years, and a legal resident of the district the senator was elected from for at least one year. Members of the House of Representatives must be citizens of the United States, at least 21 years old, a Georgia citizen for at least two years, and a legal resident of district the representative was elected from for at least one year.


According to the Georgia Constitution Article III Section II Paragraph IV:

  • No person on active duty with any branch of the armed forces of the United States shall have a seat in either house unless otherwise provided by law.
  • No person holding any civil appointment or office having any emolument annexed thereto under the United States, this state, or any other state shall have a seat in either house.
  • No Senator or Representative shall be elected by the General Assembly or appointed by the Governor to any office or appointment having any emolument annexed thereto during the time for which such person shall have been elected unless the Senator or Representative shall first resign the seat to which elected; provided, however, that, during the term for which elected, no Senator or Representative shall be appointed to any civil office which has been created during such term.


The presiding officer of the Senate is the President of the Senate. Like the U.S. Senate, a President Pro Tempore is elected by the Senate from among its members. The President Pro Tempore acts as President in case of the temporary disability of the President. In case of the death, resignation, or permanent disability of the President or in the event of the succession of the President to the executive power, the President Pro Tempore becomes President. The Senate also has as an officer the Secretary of the Senate.

The House of Representatives elects its own Speaker and a Speaker Pro Tempore. The Speaker Pro Tempore becomes Speaker in case of the death, resignation, or permanent disability of the Speaker. The Speaker Pro Tempore serves until a new Speaker is elected. The House also has as an officer the Clerk of the House of Representatives.

Powers and privileges

Article III Section VI of the Georgia Constitution specifies the powers given to the Georgia General Assembly. Paragraph I states, "The General Assembly shall have the power to make all laws not inconsistent with this Constitution, and not repugnant to the Constitution of the United States, which it shall deem necessary and proper for the welfare of the state." Moreover, the powers the Constitution gives the Assembly include land use restrictions to protect and preserve the environment and natural resources; the creation, use and disciplining through court martial of a state militia which would be under the command of the Governor of Georgia acting as commander-in-chief (excepting times when the militia is under Federal command); The power to expend public money, to condemn property, and to zone property; The continuity of state and local governments during times of emergency; state participation in tourism. The use, control and regulation of outdoor advertising within the state.

Limitation of powers

Paragraph V of Article III Section VI states that:

  • The General Assembly shall not have the power to grant incorporation to private persons but shall provide by general law the manner in which private corporate powers and privileges may be granted.
  • The General Assembly shall not forgive the forfeiture of the charter of any corporation existing on August 13, 1945, nor shall it grant any benefit to or permit any amendment to the charter of any corporation except upon the condition that the acceptance thereof shall operate as a novation of the charter and that such corporation shall thereafter hold its charter subject to the provisions of this Constitution.
  • The General Assembly shall not have the power to authorize any contract or agreement which may have the effect of or which is intended to have the effect of defeating or lessening competition, or encouraging a monopoly, which are hereby declared to be unlawful and void.
  • The General Assembly shall not have the power to regulate or fix charges of public utilities owned or operated by any county or municipality of this state, except as authorized by this Constitution.
  • No municipal or county authority which is authorized to construct, improve, or maintain any road or street on behalf of, pursuant to a contract with, or through the use of taxes or other revenues of a county or municipal corporation shall be created by any local Act or pursuant to any general Act nor shall any law specifically relating to any such authority be amended unless the creation of such authority or the amendment of such law is conditioned upon the approval of a majority of the qualified voters of the county or municipal corporation affected voting in a referendum thereon. This subparagraph shall not apply to or affect any state authority.

Privileges of members

Members of the Georgia General Assembly maintain two important privileges during their time in office. First, no member of either house of the Assembly can be arrested during sessions of the General Assembly or during committee meetings except in cases of treason, felony, or "breach of the peace". Also, members are not liable for anything they might say in either the House or the Senate or in any committee meetings of both.


The Georgia State Senate is the upper house of the Georgia General Assembly. According to the Georgia Constitution of 1983, this body is to be composed of no more than 56 members elected for two-year terms. Each senator represents an average district of 157,437 people.[13] Current state law provides for 56 members. Elections are held the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November in even-numbered years. Senators must be at least 25 years old, an American citizen, and a resident of Georgia for two years and their senatorial district for one year (preceding the election). The highest position in the Senate, after the President of the Senate, a position held by the Lieutenant Governor, is that of President Pro Tempore.

List of current senators

Party As of March 2015
     Democratic Party 18
     Republican Party 38
Total 56

House of Representatives

The Georgia House of Representatives is the lower house of the Georgia General Assembly. According to the Georgia Constitution of 1983, this body is to comprise no fewer than 180 members elected for two-year terms. Each representative represents an average district of 48,980 people.[14] Current state law provides for 180 members. Elections are held the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November in even-numbered years.

Party As of March 2015
     Democratic Party 60
     Republican Party 119
     Independent 1
Total 180

External links


  1. 2010 session dates for Georgia legislature
  2. Georgia Constitution, Article III, Section 4
  3. The Capitalization of Georgia, accessed February 5, 2007
  4. The Capitalization of Georgia, accessed February 5, 2007
  5. The Capitalization of Georgia, accessed February 5, 2007
  6. The Capitalization of Georgia, accessed February 5, 2007
  7. The Capitalization of Georgia, accessed February 5, 2007
  8. The Capitalization of Georgia, accessed February 5, 2007
  9. National Conference of State Legislatures, "2010 Legislator Compensation Data"
  10. Empire Center, "Legislative Salaries Per State as of 2007"
  11. National Association of State Budget Offices, 2008 Budget Processes in the States
  12. Georgia Budget & Policy Institute, “Solving Georgia’s Fiscal Crisis Requires More Thoughtful Measures Than Cutting Public Structures,” September 2009
  13. Population represented by state legislators
  14. Population represented by state legislators