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Georgia General Assembly
Logo
The Great Seal of Georgia
Type
Type
HousesSenate
House of Representatives
Term limits
None
Leadership
Geoff Duncan[1], (R)
since January 14, 2019
President pro tempore of the Senate
Butch Miller, (R)
since December 14, 2017
David Ralston (R)
since January 11, 2010
Structure
Seats236 voting members
  • 56 senators
  • 180 representatives
Georgia State Senate 2019-2021.svg
State Senate political groups
  •   Republican (35)
  •   Democratic (21)
Georgia House of Representatives partisan diagram.svg
The Georgia General Assembly is the state legislature of the U.S. state of Georgia. It is bicameral, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Each of the General Assembly's 236 members serve two-year terms and are directly elected by constituents of their district.[2][3] The Constitution of Georgia vests all legislative power with the General Assembly. Both houses have similar powers, though each has unique duties as well.[2] For example, the origination of appropriations bills only occurs in the House, while the Senate is tasked with confirmation of the Governor's appointments.[2]

The General Assembly meets in the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta.

History

The General Assembly, which is the legislative branch of the state's government, was created in 1777 during the American Revolution—it is older than the United States Congress. During its existence the Assembly has moved four different times when the state capital changed its location. The first location of the Assembly was Savannah, then Augusta and Louisville, moving from there to Milledgeville, and finally to Atlanta in 1868.[4]

The General Assembly in Savannah

By January 1777 Savannah had become the capital of Georgia—when the former colony declared independence from Britain. The legislature, then a unicameral body, met there in 1777–1778—retreating to Augusta when the British captured the city. They were not in Augusta long before it was captured by the British in 1779. Augusta changed hands three times during the war, finally returning to American possession in July 1781. They stayed in Augusta until the British left Savannah in May 1782 and the legislature returned to the capital.[4]

Move to Augusta

By January 1777 Savannah had become the capital of Georgia—when the former colony declared independence from Britain. The legislature, then a unicameral body, met there in 1777–1778—retreating to Augusta when the British captured the city. They were not in Augusta long before it was captured by the British in 1779. Augusta changed hands three times during the war, finally returning to American possession in July 1781. They stayed in Augusta until the British left Savannah in May 1782 and the legislature returned to the capital.[4]

Move to Augusta

Between 1783–95, the Georgia General Assembly met in both Savannah and Augusta—moving from there when tensions arose between the two cities, 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 due to pressure from the general populace to have their capital in the center of the state.[4]

On to Louisville

As the population dispersed—shifting the geographic center, it was determined that the state's capital needed to move as well. A commission was appointed by the legislature in 1786 to find a suitable location that was central to the new demography. 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 of France 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's 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.[4]

The Assembly arrives in Milledgeville

Ordinance of Secession
Ordinance of Secession Milledgeville, Georgia 1861.png
Facsimile of the 1861 Ordinance of Secession signed by 293 delegates to the Georgi

By January 1777 Savannah had become the capital of Georgia—when the former colony declared independence from Britain. The legislature, then a unicameral body, met there in 1777–1778—retreating to Augusta when the British captured the city. They were not in Augusta long before it was captured by the British in 1779. Augusta changed hands three times during the war, finally returning to American possession in July 1781. They stayed in Augusta until the British left Savannah in May 1782 and the legislature returned to the capital.[4]

Move to Augusta

Between 1783–95, the Georgia General Assembly

Between 1783–95, the Georgia General Assembly met in both Savannah and Augusta—moving from there when tensions arose between the two cities, 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 due to pressure from the general populace to have their capital in the center of the state.[4]

On to LouisvilleAs the population dispersed—shifting the geographic center, it was determined that the state's capital needed to move as well. A commission was appointed by the legislature in 1786 to find a suitable location that was central to the new demography. 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 of France 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's 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 co

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's 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.[4]

In 1804, the state government decided that yet another capital, would be needed. Subsequently, an act was passed authorizing construction of a new capital city on 3,240 acres (13 km2) in the area currently known as Baldwin County. The city was named Milledgeville in honor of Governor John Milledge.

The new Capitol took two years to complete and was a brick construction in the Gothic Revival style. The legislature convened The Georgia Secession Convention of 1861 in the Milledgeville statehouse on January 16, 1861. On January 19, delegates voted for Georgia to secede from the Union—208 in favor with 89 against—drafting a new constitution, and declaring the state an independent Republic.

Georgia's Secession Convention historical marker, erected in 2011 for the Civil War 150 commemoration by the Georgia Historical Society.

On January 21, Assembly delegates (secessionists finishing with a slight majority of delegates)Gothic Revival style. The legislature convened The Georgia Secession Convention of 1861 in the Milledgeville statehouse on January 16, 1861. On January 19, delegates voted for Georgia to secede from the Union—208 in favor with 89 against—drafting a new constitution, and declaring the state an independent Republic.

On January 21, Assembly delegates (secessionists finishing with a slight majority of delegates)[5] celebrated their decision by a public signing of the Ordinance of Secession outside of the State Capitol. Later that year, the legislature also voted to send $100,000 to South Carolina for "the relief of Charlestonians" who suffered a disastrous fire in December 1861. With General Sherman's approach, the members of the General Assembly adjourned in fall 1864, reconvening briefly in Macon in 1865. As the American Civil War came to a close with the federal government in military control of Georgia, the legislature reconvened at the Capitol in Milledgeville.[4]

Atlanta

In 1867, Major General John Pope, military governor of Georgia, called for an assembly in Atlanta to hold a constitutional convention. At that time Atlanta officials moved once again to have the city designated as Georgia's state capital, donating the property where Atlanta's first city hall was constructed. The constitutional convention agreed and the people voted to ratify the decision on April 20, 1868. The Georgia General Assembly first convened in Atlanta on July 4, 186

In 1867, Major General John Pope, military governor of Georgia, called for an assembly in Atlanta to hold a constitutional convention. At that time Atlanta officials moved once again to have the city designated as Georgia's state capital, donating the property where Atlanta's first city hall was constructed. The constitutional convention agreed and the people voted to ratify the decision on April 20, 1868. The Georgia General Assembly first convened in Atlanta on July 4, 1868.

In 1884, the legislature appropriated one million dollars to build a new State Capitol. Construction began October 26, 1884 and the building was completed (slightly under budget) and occupied on June 15, 1889.State Capitol. Construction began October 26, 1884 and the building was completed (slightly under budget) and occupied on June 15, 1889.[4]

Notably, the dome atop the capitol building is plated with real gold, most of which came from the Dahlonega, Georgia area.[6] The roofing gives rise to local colloquialisms—for instance, if one knowledgeable Georgian wanted to ask another what the General Assembly was doing, he might ask what was happening "under the gold dome."[7]

The General Assembly meets in regular session on the second Monday in January for no longer than 40 legislative (rather than calendar) 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.

Committees