Georgia Constitutional Officers.
The current Georgia constitution recognizes eight Constitutional Officers, all of whom are elected:
- Lieutenant Governor,
- Secretary of State,
- Attorney General,
- State School Superintendent,
- Commissioner of Insurance,
- Commissioner of Agriculture,
- Commissioner of Labor.
Constitution of the State of Georgia, March 1983, rev. January 2009, Art. V, Sec. IV, Para I
The Georgia Constitution stipulates that an election will be held every four years for Governor and Lieutenant Governor on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November and that “The Secretary of State, Attorney General, State School Superintendent, Commissioner of Insurance, Commissioner of Agriculture, and Commissioner of Labor shall be elected in the manner prescribed for the election of members of the General Assembly and the electors shall be the same. Such executive officers shall be elected at the same time and hold their offices for the same term as the Governor.”
Constitution of the State of Georgia, March 1983, rev. January 2009, Section III, Para. I
History of Constitutional Officers.
The Governor has been recognized as a constitutional officer in all state constitutions, from the first in 1777 through the current.
The office of Lieutenant Governor was created by the Constitution of 1945 (Art. V, Sec. 1, Par. VII). The Lieutenant Governor is elected and serves a four year term.
Secretary of State
The Constitution of 1777 mentioned “the secretary” of “the government and executive council” (Art. XXX, Marbury and Crawford, p. 10) and an Act of September 16, 1777 required certain documents relating to land grants to be filed with “the surveyor general’s office” and “The Secretary’s Office.” (Marbury and Crawford, p. 318).
The Constitution of 1798 formally established a “secretary of state” (Art. Par. 12, Marbury and Crawford, p. 27). This position, like the governor, was elected by the General Assembly for a two year term. The office changed to a four-year term in 1868.
The first “Attorney General” of Georgia, William Clifton, took his oath of office in November of 1754 (Colonial Records of Georgia, v. VIII). The Judiciary Act of 1797 provided for an Attorney General and two Solicitors General whose sole duty was to prosecute criminals. The Attorney General became a constitutional officer under the Constitution of 1877 (Article VI, Sec. X) and became the legal advisor of the Governor and other state government departments.
State School Superintendent
The Constitution of 1868 authorized a general education system to be free to all children of the State and provided for a State School Commissioner to be appointed by the Governor. (Article VI)
An Act of October 13, 1870 (Ga. L. 1870, p 49) established a Georgia State Board of Education consisting of the Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Comptroller General, and State School Commissioner. The Commissioner was to be “appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate.”
An Act of December 18, 1894 (Ga. L. 1894, p. 34) changed selection of State School Commissioner to “election by the people instead of being appointed by the Governor.”
An Act of August 21, 1911 (Ga. L. 1911, p. 94) changed the name of the State School Commissioner to State Superintendent of Schools and reconstituted the Board.
Commissioner of Insurance
This office was first made a Constitutional office—as the Comptroller General—in the Constitution of 1861 (Art. III, Sec. 2, Par. VIII), though the office had existed in state government since December 5, 1799 (Marbury & Crawford, p. 184), when the General Assembly provided for a Comptroller General, merging into this
office duties and powers that had previously been exercised by auditors and treasurers appointed for special purposes. The 1983 State Constitution changed
the title of this constitutional office from Comptroller General to Commissioner of Insurance, with no change in duties or responsibilities.
Commissioner of Agriculture
The Department of Agriculture and the office of Commissioner of Agriculture were created by an Act of February 28, 1874 (Ga. L. 1875, p. 5),
making Georgia’s Agriculture Department the nation’s first. The Commissioner was “appointed by the Governor, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.”
The Commissioner of Agriculture was made an Executive Officer of the State by the 1945 Constitution (Art. V, Sec. 2, Par. 1).
Commissioner of Labor
The Department of Commerce and Labor was created by an Act of August 21, 1911 (Ga. L 1911, p. 133). The Commissioner of Commerce and Labor was “elected by persons entitled to vote for the members of the General Assembly, at the same time, in the same manner, and under the same rules and regulations as the Governor and State House officers; and shall hold his office for two years.”
In 1931, the Department of Commerce and Labor was abolished and the Department of Industrial Relations was created in its place. The Commissioner of Commerce and Labor was transferred to the newly created Department, designated as Chairman, and “elected as now provided by law.” (Ga. L. 1931, p. 42-43).
In 1937, The Department of Industrial Relations was abolished and the Department of Labor established with a Commissioner of Labor as its Executive Officer. “Said Commissioner shall be elected by those persons entitled to vote for the members of the General Assembly, and his term shall be for two (2) years.” (Ga. L. 1937, p. 230). In 1941 the term was extended to four (4) years. (Ga. L. 1941, p. 241)
The Constitution of 1945 lists the Labor Commissioner as an Executive Officer.
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