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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