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Georgia’s government resembles the federal model, with an executive, legislative and judicial branch maintaining a balance of power.
The Governor is the chief executive of the state of Georgia. Like the President, he or she is limited to two four-year terms. The Lieutenant Governor is similar to the Vice President. He or she is president of the State Senate and becomes Governor if there is a vacancy in the Governor’s Office.
However, there are differences:
- The Governor does not choose a running mate. The Lieutenant Governor runs separately from the Governor and can be elected even if he or she is from a different political party.
- The Lieutenant Governor can serve multiple terms.
The Governor appoints many agency heads, but some cabinet level officials are elected statewide. These offices include:
- Secretary of State
- Attorney General
- Labor Commissioner
- State School Superintendent
- Agriculture Commissioner
- Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner
Five members of the Public Service Commission are elected and are chosen at a district level.
The legislative branch, also called the Georgia General Assembly, consists of:
Legislators serve local districts and are elected to two-year terms. There are no term limits. They meet annually for a 40-day session, usually lasting between January and April.
During the session, legislators submit and pass bills and resolutions that affect the state of Georgia, and pass the state’s budget for the next fiscal year. The Governor must sign these bills before they become law.
The judicial branch consists of six different courts that hear cases:
- Municipal Court (Ordinance violations, traffic citations)
- Magistrate Court (Warrants, minor offenses)
- Probate Court (Wills, estates and marriage licenses)
- Juvenile Court (Crimes and cases involving juveniles)
- State Court (Civil cases and misdemeanors)
- Superior Court (Civil cases, divorce, felonies)
There are also several avenues for appealing decisions in these lower courts:
For more information on Georgia’s government visit the New Georgia Encyclopedia.
Photo courtesy of the Governor’s Office.