State Representative David Stover (R-HD-71) filed HB 723 prior to the convening of the 2016 session of the Georgia General Assembly. The premise is simple: if you’re a current member of the General Assembly, or you’ve been out less than a year, you would not be able to take a non-elected job within state government.
The bill has garnered a few co-signers like Rep. Buzz Brockway (R-HD-102), Rep. John Pezold (R-HD-133), and Rep. LaDawn Jones (D-HD-62). It sounds like a good idea, and I believe it can be equated to a similar law dealing with my county’s (Walker County) election board (I figure other counties are similar, but since I’m most familiar with Walker’s, I’ll use it as an example). The law states that for someone to serve on our election board, they must have not been politically active (ran for office, held public office, been an officer in a political party) for at least two years.
The thought is that you’d be far-enough removed from your party to represent but act in the interest of the voters. That’s not to say that someone wouldn’t act honorably if they were appointed while they were an officer in a party, but there would be the perception of impropriety. It may or may not be justified, but, as we know, perception is everything in politics. I believe the same thing could be said for the Governor handing out appointments to members of the General Assembly.
I have no doubt that there are well-qualified men and women in the General Assembly that could do well in vacancies in state government, but the perception is that representatives and senators who are friendly towards the administration are getting these gigs. That’s also not including the costs for the counties to hold special elections to fill the unexpired terms of legislators who take these appointments to non-elected positions. I have no doubt that county governments would be happy if they didn’t have to spend taxpayer money if some special elections were curbed.
We’ve elected our representatives to do a job: represent us in Atlanta. We want y’all to represent us and not use us as a stepping stone to a cushy state job. It will be interesting to see if this bill makes its way through committee and on to the floor.