Overview of the Georgia State Legislature

Georgia’s state legislature is a two-house body with a 180-member State House and a 56-member State Senate. The role of the state legislature is to make law, including passing a budget that funds all state agencies. The Governor may or may not sign all legislation passed by the legislature in order for it to become law.

“The Session” – Our state’s legislature convenes each year for 40 days beginning on the second Monday of January. The 40 days are counted by each day that the legislature has time on the floor to consider voting on bills. Business must be completed by midnight of the 40th day, and a concurrent House and Senate resolution called “adjournment sine die” accomplishes its conclusion.

Typically, during the session, the legislature recesses for several days to deliberate on the state budget with most sessions ending sometime in mid to late March. The calendar timing for the legislative session was based on Georgia’s agricultural economy --- many elected officials were farmers who could only come to the state capital when there was no growing season.

In 2010, the legislature had numerous recesses, and the session lasted until early May – this was the longest session any lobbyist has had in memory.

Odd-numbered years are the first years of 2-year legislative sessions. Bills introduced the first year of the 2-year term of our state legislators are “carried over” to the second year as long as these bills have not been voted down or “killed.” If these bills have not passed by the end of the second year, then the bills are no longer valid and cannot be carried over again. After the next election, the same bill can always be introduced again.

Georgia House & Senate Members – Every legislator is elected for two year terms every two years (no staggered terms). If there is a vacancy, there is a special election. There are 180 State House districts and 56 State Senate districts which are established every 10 years by a reapportionment process (this process is based on the national census and the legislature redraws the district lines based on the new population levels).

To determine your Georgia House or Senate member, check for your district numbers on your voter’s registration card. If you have not registered yet, check with your county’s voter’s registration office (in the blue pages of the phone book), or visit www.sos.ga.gov. You also can determine who is your Representative or Senator by calling House Information at 404/656-5082 or Senate Information at 404/656-0028 and giving them your district numbers. This information is also available online at www.legis.state.ga.us. Another easy way to find your legislators is to enter your complete address including zip code at www.votesmart.org.

All legislators serve on specific committees and the information about their committee assignments is available at www.legis.state.ga.us. Remember - since all bills are assigned to committees, these assignments are very important determinants for the direction of your lobbying efforts.

Most legislators have offices in the Coverdell Office Building (across from the western entrance/exit to the state capitol building). All of the House committee chairs and most of the Senate committee chairpersons have offices in the state capitol building.




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