HB 781 Aims to Keep Georgia Great. Or Something.

To run for a seat in the Georgia legislature, you need to meet a few qualifications: You must be a resident in your district for at least one year prior to qualifying, you need to be either 25 (for the Senate) or 21 (for the House) years old, and you need to have been Georgia resident for a minimum of two years.

State and local government officials generally have a fair amount of independence when it comes to who they can appoint to various boards and authorities, but if HB 781, sponsored by Representative Brad Raffensperger (R-50-Johns Creek) manages to survive the session, you can rest assured that your local parks commission will be populated with only full-blooded, natural born, Georgia-peachy Americans (bonus points if they’re descended from Oglethorpe). From Section 1:

No individual shall be appointed to serve on an authority, school district, commission, council, or board for a local governing body unless he or she is a citizen of the United States and has been a legal resident of the jurisdiction being served for one year immediately preceding such appointment.

And Section 3:

No individual shall be appointed to serve on a state authority, board, council, or commission unless he or she is a citizen of the United States and has been a legal resident of this state for four years immediately preceding such appointment.

This bill is in keeping with the talking points from more than one presidential candidate, and it’s unlikely that it’s going anywhere this session, mostly because HB 781 is way, way too far-reaching.

In addition to keeping Senator Ted Cruz off of every cemetery commission in Georgia, for discussion’s sake, let’s say that you are a municipal elected official in a city that is known for having large refugee population, and you want to appoint a member of that refugee community to an advisory board in your city. Or, perhaps you are a councilmember in a city that is now home to a major German automaker, and maybe you want to appoint a German-born executive from that automaker to your local economic development authority? Not on Rep. Raffensperger’s watch!

Because a candidate only needs to live in Georgia for two years prior to representing his or her community in the Legislature, it’s absurd to propose that someone must live Georgia for four years prior to serving on any statewide appointed board, and it’s of even greater concern that Georgia’s House of Representatives would consider any legislation that would completely disregard Georgia’s role in the global economy by requiring that only American citizens serve on any board or authority.

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TartanHopper
TartanHopper

The law does not appear to make any restrictions on naturalized vs natural born citizen. So any immigrant who has passed the citizenship exam would qualify (as would their adult children born here.)

But if you’re here on a tourist visa, you can’t be appointed to a government board.

And I don’t really want a foreigner (or even someone from SC) wielding government power in my state. The guy from Mercedes can submit a report for consideration or have one of his US citizens help control zoning around the corporate HQ.

TartanHopper
TartanHopper

Although not allowing a resident of a county to sit on a neighboring city’s board is absurd. (Especially if they own property or a business in the city.)

In fact, there might be some improvement districts that have no residents at all..

Charlie
Charlie

Not stopping to look it up, but if my memory is correct you have to be a resident of the state for 2 years and your House or Senate district for one year to be elected, no?

But you need to be a resident for four years to be appointed to serve on an advisory board?

Saltycracker
Saltycracker

Boards usually have authority so I’m not sure what an advisory board is. And I doubt this bill applies to advisory committees. While the 4 year residency is a stretch, some restrictions and guidelines are in order as cronyism and twisted political correctness usually trump common sense.

Will Durant
Will Durant

Please excuse Rep. Raffensperger as he has likely been listening to DOE Superintendent Woods’ fear mongering about our loss of ‘Murican exceptionalism and reasoning that Georgians in particular need a more basic AP history test than the other states. We certainly can’t allow people from other states or countries to come in here and tell us how to run things.