The framers of the U.S. Constitution had a shared goal: create a government with a set system of checks and balances. This way, no single political party, office, individual, or group could hold all the power at the federal, state, or local level. To ensure this balance, they created three separate branches of government:
- Legislative – Creates laws
- Executive – Implements and enforces laws
- Judicial – Assesses and interprets laws
These three branches exist at every level of our country’s government — federal, state and local. Here’s a quick overview of how it works in Georgia’s state government.
The Georgia General Assembly is made up of the Georgia Senate and the Georgia House of Representatives. It is in charge of creating, debating and determining the laws that guide our state. The Georgia General Assembly also has the power to:
- Determine the state’s operating budget.
- Consider proposed amendments to the Georgia Constitution. If both chambers pass a proposal with two-thirds of members giving it a “yea” (yes) vote, the question will be put to Georgia voters in an upcoming election.
- Establish legislative districts. Every 10 years, the General Assembly uses population data from the U.S. Census to draw district boundaries for the state House, state Senate, and U.S. House.
At the local level, legislative decisions are handled by your city council, county board of commissioners, board of supervisors, and board of trustees.
To learn more about the Legislative Branch, read Article 3 of the State of Georgia Constitution.
Georgia’s main executive official and head of state is the governor. Elected to a 4-year term by Georgia voters, the governor isn’t allowed to hold office more than 2 consecutive terms. Along with overseeing the state budget and leading an executive branch of more than 100,000 employees, the governor is in charge of:
- Enforcing laws and maintaining peace
- Leading our state’s National Guard and police forces as commander in chief
- Vetoing, approving, or taking no action on legislation passed by the Georgia General Assembly
- Filling unexpected vacancies in the Senate, House of Representatives, and other public offices
- Convening special sessions of the Georgia Assembly
- Nominating officials to positions in state government (these must be approved by the Georgia General Assembly)
The other elected members of the executive branch include:
- Lieutenant governor
- Secretary of state
- Attorney general
- State school superintendent
- The commissioners of agriculture, insurance, and labor
This is only an overview of the different roles and services managed by the executive branch, which also includes various agencies, boards, and commissions.
To learn more about the Executive Branch, read Article 5 of the State of Georgia Constitution.
Georgia’s judicial branch interprets our state laws and administers justice through our legal system. Our judicial system has two appellate-level courts: the Supreme Court of Georgia and the Court of Appeals of Georgia. It also has five classes of trial-level courts: the superior, state, probate, juvenile, and magistrate courts.
Georgia’s Judicial System is overseen by the Judicial Council. Its job is to develop policies for administering and improving our state courts. The Council is staffed by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) and is led by the chief justice (chairperson) and the presiding justice (vice chairperson) of our state’s Supreme Court.
To learn more about the Executive Branch, read Article 6 of the State of Georgia Constitution.