HB 723: Initial Thoughts On “Cooling Off” Period Of State Legislators For State Jobs

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.

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Dave BearseBrian KeahlCharlieJon Richardschefdavid Recent comment authors
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chefdavid
chefdavid

We had a similar situation here in Dade. A county commisioner ran for the state rep Job. It caused a special election. In the whole process the commisioner lost and then ran for his old job back and one. I was livid. Finish your term before run for another office. Or at least disqualify someone who resigns from the next election.

Jon Richards
Jon Richards

A couple of other bills are in the hopper along the same lines. All are constitutional amendments:

Senate Resolution 715 would prevent a candidate from being listed as an incumbent unless he or she had served at least one full term in office.

S.R. 716 would mandate that any bill, resolution or conference committee report be available for 24 hours prior to a vote.

S.R. 717 is similar to HB 723, except a two year timeout is mandated after leaving office.

Charlie
Charlie

This bill has no chance of passing, and was introduced to get the sponsor more camera time as he’s apparently given up all hope of passing any bill so long as the current Speaker and Governor are in power. That’s one approach, and I’ll let the readers determine if they think this is the most productive use of a legislator’s time. That said, let’s get outside of the trite “they’re all in it for the money and payoffs” meme that has become a somewhat lazy attack point to put down anyone who has the temerity to get themselves elected and… Read more »

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

Indeed there can be no chance of enactment when the legislation requires approval of the crony-in-chief, with General Assembly leadership or water-bearers for either tending to be the beneficiaries. I don’t think many of the honest and intelligent will cede the opportunity to serve if HB723 were enacted. You ran for office. Would you have given running for office a second thought if HB723 restrictions applied? Meanwhile, dismissing HB723 in a period of increasing numbers of such appointments contributes to a payoff meme that doesn’t improve the climate for an increase in pay. It’s not like the Senate took action… Read more »

Brian Keahl
Brian Keahl

While I have a problem with legislators being appointed to positions coincident with acts in the legislature which appear suspicious at best, the problem, in the end, is the electorate.

There are instances where a particular person, who happens to be a legislator, may be especially qualified for a position, making the “cooling off” period an impediment to good governance. The flip-side is obvious.

There comes a point where, if the need to micro-manage those who govern us reaches the point of restricting political appointees, the corruption of the process has rendered our government beyond saving.