Government of Georgia (U.S. state)
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The state government of Georgia is the U.S. state governmental body established by the Georgia State Constitution. It is a republican form of government with three branches: the legislature, executive, and judiciary. Through a system of separation of powers or "checks and balances", each of these branches has some authority to act on its own, some authority to regulate the other two branches, and has some of its own authority, in turn, regulated by the other branches.
The present Georgia Constitution was adopted in 1982 and came into force in 1983. Earlier constitutions were enacted in 1777, 1789, 1799, 1861, 1865, 1868, 1877, 1945, and 1976. In total, ten have been created. Amendments to the Constitution may be proposed in the Georgia legislature and must be approved by a two-thirds majority vote of both the state House and state Senate followed by ratification by a majority of the electors qualified to vote for members of the General Assembly at the next general election which is held in the even-numbered years. The Constitution can also be amended by proposal at a constitutional convention, the calling of which must receive the support of a two-thirds majority vote by both houses of the legislature and a simple majority of state voters.
The main executive official in Georgia is the Governor. They are elected by the voters of the state for a term of four years. No person may hold the office more than twice consecutively. The governor oversees the state budget and thus possesses great power over all state finances. Additionally, the governor is responsible for the nomination of over a thousand officials to a variety of positions in state government, one of the largest rosters of any U.S. state. Those nominated must be approved by the state legislature.
The legislature of Georgia is the General Assembly, a bicameral body consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Senate has 56 members and the House has 180 members. Each member of the legislature represents geographically distinct districts from which each voter may give support to one candidate for each body. For most of its history, the state used an unusual county unit system by which districts were drawn such that each had the same area. However, population growth in cities across the state led to the rural population, which was in relative decline, having disproportionate power in government. After the U.S. Supreme Court declared such unequal representation to be unconstitutional in Gray v. Sanders in 1963, state officials began to redefine legislative districts so that each had a similarly sized population. Both senators and representatives have terms of two years. There are no limits on the number of terms any person may serve.
The highest judiciary power in Georgia is the Supreme Court, which is composed of seven judges. The state also has a Court of Appeals made of 12 judges. Georgia is divided into 49 judicial circuits, each of which has a Superior Court consisting of local citizens numbering between two and 19 members depending on the circuit population. Under the 1983 Constitution, Georgia also has magistrate courts, probate courts, juvenile courts, state courts; the General Assembly may also authorize municipal courts. Other courts, including county recorder's courts, civil courts and other agencies in existence on June 30, 1983, may continue with the same jurisdiction until otherwise provided by law.
Each county in Georgia has at least one superior court, magistrate court, probate court, and where needed a state court and a juvenile court; in the absence of a state court or a juvenile court, the superior court exercises that jurisdiction.
All serving judges are elected by popular vote either from the entire state in the cases of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals or from a given circuit in the case of Superior Courts. Judges of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals serve for terms of six years. Judges of other courts serve for terms of four years.
Georgia is divided into 159 counties, more than any other U.S. state except Texas. Among all counties, 149 of them are governed by a committee made of between three and eleven commissioners. The other 10 counties are overseen by a single commissioner. All commissioners are elected by the voters of their county for terms that range between two and six years with most counties having terms lasting four years. Serving members wield both executive and legislative power in their county.
Most of the 536 cities in Georgia are governed by a mayor-council system. All municipalities in the state are considered cities. Most basic public services rendered outside of the cities are provided by the counties.
About half of all appropriations in the Georgia state budget each year are funded by state taxes, with the remainder of revenue coming from federal grants and state bonds. In recent years, Georgia has had one of the best performing economies of the U.S. states as it relates to both taxation-to-spending and tax-to-debt ratios. It also has the fourth lowest per capita government debt.
- Georgia government:
- US constitutional judicial decisions initiated by Georgians:
- History of Georgia:
- History of the South:
- History of the United States:
- Official website
- Homepage of Georgia Governor Nathan Deal
- Georgia General Assembly
- Supreme Court of Georgia
- The Constitution of the State of Georgia (Revised January 2009)
- Georgia State University primer on State Government
- Democratic Party of Georgia
- Georgia Republican Party (GAGOP)
- Georgia at Ballotpedia
- Georgia at Judgepedia
- Georgia at Sunshine Review