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Georgia State and Local Government

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  1. Georgia State and Local Government

  2. Organization of Georgia State Government and The Role of Citizens

  3. Georgia’s Constitution • First Constitution in 1777 • Unicameral • Short with small government • New one in 1789 modeled after the US Constitution • State Constitutions are longer than Federal with more details and restrictions • Georgia has had 10 State Constitutions with the most recent being in 1983.

  4. Structure of the Constitution • Preamble • Bill of Rights • Specifically spells out the way the government runs • Details responsibilities of all offices and positions • Three Branches • Separation of Power • Three Branches with Specific Duties • Checks and Balances • Strong Executive • Voters Check Power

  5. Rights versus Responsibilities of the Georgia Citizen Rights Responsibilities Being informed about the government and knowing your rights in order to preserve them Participating in government Respecting the rights of others Respecting diversity Obeying the laws Paying taxes Defending the nation Serving in court Attending school • Voting • Life, liberty, property • Freedoms of speech, press, and religion, petition • Right to bear arms, due process, fair and speedy trial • Rights against self incrimination, double jeopardy, unreasonable search and seizure • Fishing and Hunting

  6. Responsibility: Participation in Politics • Politics: The process of deciding about public issues • A way to present and debate different points of view and ideas • Full time politicians: • Political Party officials • Campaign directors • Lobbyists • Elected officials

  7. Ways to Participate in Politics • Join Political Parties • Local organizations • Contributing time and/or money • Join Public Interest Group: Group of people who share a special interest and try to get things done through politics • Lobbyist: people who personally contact politicians to influence legislation • Stance on Public Issues • Goals that do not need election • Public Parks • Against Drunk Driving • Be an informed citizen • Read newspapers • Visit websites • Public policy: government goal and the plan to achieve that goal

  8. Right: Voting • 18 years old to vote • Right to vote in secret and have your vote counted the same as everyone else’s • Representative Democracy • Elect officials to make political decisions for us • Officials Elected in the State • Legislative: State Senators and Representatives • Executive: Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, State School Superintendent, Specific Commissioners in charge of certain Functions • Judicial: Supreme Court Justice, Appeals Court Justice, Superior Court Judge, District Attorney

  9. Elections and Voting Opportunities in Georgia • System of Elections is partisan (candidates are identified by political party) • Judicial candidates and some local candidates run in nonpartisan elections (no party affiliation) • In a Primary Election, parties have the opportunity to nominate (choose) the candidate that they will run in the General Election for a particular position • Candidates can also get on the ballot through a petition. These are usually Independent Candidates • Georgia has “open” primaries – you do not have to be a member of the party to vote in their primary. • You can only vote in one primary, though, so most people vote in their party’s primary election

  10. Elections and voting Opportunities in Georgia • In the General Election, which happens the first Tuesday after the first Monday in even numbered years, the voters choose the people that will fill positions • Voters choose the people they see as the most qualified for each office, regardless of party affiliation • Many people vote “along party lines” • Can write in a candidate • The candidate with the majority of votes wins • If there is no majority, a runoff is held between the two candidates with the largest number of votes • Winners take office the January following the election

  11. Other Elections and Terms • Special Elections – can be held at any time to fill vacant positions • An incumbent (the person who holds the office) dies or resigns (quits). • Recall Election – gives citizens the opportunity to remove an official from office before the end of the term.

  12. Political Parties • America, and Georgia, has a Two Party System • Democrats and Republicans are the two major parties • Political Parties are a collection of people who share the same ideologies about the public well being • Supported by citizens, businesses, and interest groups • Political parties allow an organized way for people to work together for the same purposes • Want to control government by having a majority of their party’s candidates elected to office • Nominate, support, and campaign for their candidates

  13. The Legislative Branch in Georgia

  14. General Assembly • The General Assembly is made up of the State Senate and the State House of Representatives • Bicameral – Two Houses

  15. Responsibilities of the General Assembly • Responsible for enacting (creating) laws and statutes (laws at the state and local level) • Approves all state spending • Appropriations Bill to allow the spending of money • Represent the Constituents (people in each legislator’s specific district) • Guardians of the State Constitution • All changes (amendments) must be approved by a 2/3 majority in each house

  16. Qualifications to be a member of the General Assembly State Senator State Representative 180 Members Has 45, 480 people in their District Must be a US Citizen Must be a Georgia Citizen for at least two years Must be a legal resident of their district for at least one year Must be 21 years old Makes about $16,000 a year Two Year Term of Office • 56 Members • Has 146,186 people in their District • Must be a US Citizen • Must be a Georgia Citizen for at least two years • Must be a legal resident of their district for at least one year • Must be 25 years old • Makes about $16,000 a year • Two Year Term of Office

  17. How the General Assembly Runs • The General Assembly meets each year for 40 days of Government Business • Begins on the Second Monday of January • Take many breaks from Business • Can Last until April • Organized by the separate parties • Organized in Committees

  18. Party Organization • There is a Majority party and a Minority Party depending on which party has more members in the chamber • Each party holds a caucus (meeting to select leaders) • Governor Selects Administrative Floor Leader • A legislator in each house that is responsible for introducing bills the governor likes and pressing for them to be passed

  19. Committees • In the House, the Speaker appoints members and officers to committees • In the Senate, the Committee on Assignments makes these appointments • Consists of the President (Lt. Governor) of the senate, the President Pro tem, and the Senate Majority Leader. • The committee system is important. Much of the work of Government happens in committees.

  20. Committees • There are too many things to research and work on for every member of the Houses to do together. • Each house has a set of committees where legislators work on specific items. • 20 Standing Committees • Organized by topic - specialized • Continues from session to session • Examples • Education • Transportation • Ways and Means

  21. The Process of Legislation • The Legislature passes laws and statutes that either effect the entire state or only specific local areas. • General • Local • Laws Start out as Ideas had by a legislator, constituent, or interest group. • The idea is sent to a legislator – usually the legislator from the person’s district

  22. The Bill • The idea is turned into a bill (a written proposal for a law) • Can be more than 1,000 bills introduced per 40 day session • Four Major Categories • Laws that apply to State Agencies and services • Laws make rules about behavior of people, groups, and businesses • Laws that allow the state to raise and spend money • Laws that apply to local governments

  23. Committee Action- Committees research a bill and then suggest it to be passed, changed, or held • Floor Action – If the committee passes the bill it is debated , voted on , and possibly amended by the House or Senate. • Governor Action – After both Houses pass the bill in the same form the governor can veto and keep it from becoming law. The legislature can override a veto with a 2/3 majority.

  24. The Executive Branch in Georgia

  25. Purpose of the Executive Branch • The Executive Branch determines how legislative action will be carried out • In each piece of legislation, there is a part setting up an executive agency (unit of government such as a department, board, commission, or office) • The executive agencies can do research and hold public hearings, as they set up the rules and regulations which will apply to the legislation. These rules and regulations have the power of law • The Executive Branch runs state sponsored programs • The Executive Branch enforces laws

  26. Governor • Head Executive of the State • Qualifications • U.S. citizen for 15 years • resident of state for the 6 years preceding the election • at least 30 years old • 4 year term of office • Can only serve two consecutive terms • After two consecutive terms, a governor must wait 4 years before running again

  27. Governor of Georgia

  28. Formal Powers of the Governor • A governor’s formal powers are described in the Constitution • A governor’s formal powers include: • The right to appoint state officials and the right to see that civil and criminal laws are enforced (GBI) • The right to veto a bill and the right to call special sessions of the legislature • The right to pardon prisoners and the right to appoint state justices • Other formal powers include: • managing the state budget, • directing the attorney general to act as a representative of the state in lower court cases involving state law, • presenting an annual “State of the State” address, preparing budget bills, • commander-in-chief of the National Guard, and heading the state’s civil defense units

  29. Informal Powers of the Governor • Informal powers are powers that are not listed in the state’s constitution, some are the result of tradition and custom, others are necessary to enforce formal powers • A governor’s informal powers include: • Giving public addresses on issues of interest to Georgians • Issuing proclamations to honor individuals, holidays or special events • Representing the state in meetings w/ other state officials and with foreign dignitaries • Meeting w/ business and industry leaders from other states or nations to get them to bring business to Georgia • Guiding state agencies

  30. Lieutenant Governor • Same qualifications as Governor • Can serve unlimited terms as Lt. Governor • Duties • Fills in for the governor when Gov. is ill or disabled • Becomes Governor if the governor dies, resigns, or is impeached • Appoints members of some executive boards • President of the Senate • Helps to assign committee officers and members as well as assign bills to committee

  31. Other Elected Executive Positions • Qualifications • U.S. Citizen for ten years • Georgia resident for 4 years • Must be 25 years old when they take office • Term of Four Years • Cannot be removed by Governor • Offices • Secretary of State • Attorney General • Must also be a member of the State Bar for 7 years • Superintendant of Schools • Commissioners of Agriculture, labor, and insurance Karen Handel Kathy Cox

  32. Break it Down • 99% of State Government Employees work for the Executive Branch • Broken into Seven Major Categories • Education • Human Services • Public Safety • Transportation • General Government • Economic Development • Natural Resources

  33. Education • Biggest responsibility of State Government • Sets school curriculum • University System of Georgia • controls state colleges and universities • Headed by State Board of Regents • Appointed by Governor • Student Finance Commission - HOPE scholarship, grants, scholarships and loans • Teachers Retirement System of Georgia

  34. Human Services • Promotes physical health, mental health, and welfare • Department of Human Services • Disease control • Family planning • Substance abuse care • People with disabilities • Many more • Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) • Department of Community Health (DCH) • Joint Programs with Federal Government • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) - welfare • Medicaid

  35. Public Safety • To protect the citizens of Georgia • Secretary of State’s Office • responsible for licensing certain businesses and occupations • Department of Labor • Department of Public Safety • Georgia State Patrol • Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) • Department of Corrections • Prisons • Parole Board

  36. Transportation • Four main methods of Transport -Highway -Water -Rail -Air • Georgia Department of Transportation (DOT) • Responsible for building and maintaining Georgia’s roads • Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) • Operates Georgia’s ports

  37. Economic Development • Governor promotes the State through Diplomacy • Department of Economic Development • To promote the state and draw in business • Promote the State’s Resources • Tourism • Encourage businesses to locate in Georgia • Encourage Entrepreneurs to take risks • Bring Industry to Georgia

  38. Natural Resources • Responsible for Protecting the State’s Natural Resources • Sees to it that the resources are used in the best way to benefit the people of the State • Helps plan the use of water for the entire state • Department of Natural Resources (DNR) • Environmental Protection Division (EPD) • Water and air protection • Waste management

  39. Budget • Governor must estimate the likely annual expenditures (amount of money spent by the government) and the likely revenue (money the government receives) • Governor makes a budget • Sends it to the Legislature for approval • Legislature makes minor changes • Both houses must pass the same budget • Budget must be balanced • Money to run the government comes from taxes • Personal income tax is where the largest part of the money comes from • General Sales Tax – 4% • Property tax • SPLOST – Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax

  40. Georgia’s Judicial Branch

  41. Purpose • Settling disputes or conflicts between citizens, businesses, groups, and government involving legal obligations • Conflicts may be over • Rights and duties • Questions of guilt or innocence • Constitutionality of laws

  42. Types of Laws • Constitutional Law – rules in US and state Constitutions • This gives the Judicial Branch Judicial Review – reviewing rules or laws • Reserved for higher level courts • Statutory Law – Laws Enacted by Legislatures • Administrative Law – rules and regulations of executive branch agencies

  43. Civil Cases • Civil Cases – disputes between two or more citizens or businesses • Plaintiff – the person who makes the claim • Defendant – the person who the claim is against • Most often the dispute is settled before the trial starts • No guilty or innocent, just who makes the better case

  44. Criminal Cases • The State brings charges against someone who is accused of committing a crime (doing something that is against the law) • The prosecution is the government • The defendant is the person accused of the crime • Felony- very serious crime punishable by a year or more in prison and/or $1,000 or more fine • Capital Felony – Crime punishable by death. • Misdemeanor – less serious crime punishable by less that 1 year in prison and/or less that $1,000 fine

  45. Trial Courts • Jurisdiction – the power to hear and settle disputes in certain matters (Limited or General) • Original jurisdiction – Trial Courts – the first court to hear a case • Trials can be jury or no jury (jury is a group of citizens to decide the outcome of the trial) • Has Certain kinds of cases they settle (Trial Courts) • Probate (159) – wills, settling estates, appointing guardians • Magistrate Court (159)– pretrial proceedings, warrants, bail, traffic, civil claims under $15,000 • Juvenile (159)– children under 17 except in serious felonies • State – (70) - misdemeanors, felonies, most civil cases • Superior Courts(159) – felonies, divorces, land titles

  46. Appellate Courts • Review the Actions of Lower Courts • Superior Courts review the actions of Probate, Magistrate, municipal courts • Court of Appeals (12 judges)– Appellate jurisdiction in cases not reserved for the Supreme Court • Supreme Court (7 Justices) – Exclusive jurisdiction in constitutional cases, treaties, capital felonies

  47. Due Process • Rights included in Due Process • Be told the charges against you • Speedy and public trial • Confront witnesses against you • Be represented by a lawyer • Impartial judge and jury • Remain silent

  48. The Process • Pretrial • Arrest • Booking – official record of the arrest • Initial Appearance – lawyer, informed of charges, set bail • Preliminary Hearing – magistrate – probable cause • Grand Jury Indictment – • Grand Jury – 16-23 citizens decide if the defendant should be indicted • Indictment – formal accusation of the charges the state is accusing the person of • Arraignment – Charges are read and the defendant pleads guilty or not guilty • Plea Bargain – Defendant agrees to plead guilty to a less serious crime – (followed by sentencing)