UPDATED: Four year terms gaining steam

Senator John Douglas has proposed a constitutional amendment that would provide four year terms for legislators. Even numbered districts would run with the Governor, odd numbered districts with the President. According to the legislation elections for the four year terms would begin in 2010.

The legislation has been signed by 31 Republicans and all 22 Democrats.

The House is considering it’s own measure, HR 2.

[UPDATE] Here is the legislation, if you are interested.


  1. drjay says:

    maybe for the senate–but house members should face voters every 2 years–just like the u.s. house–it provides for more immediate “feedback” for/from voters–accountability if you will…

  2. bowersville says:

    I disagree, both the House and Senate should face the voters every 2 years. If you have ever dealt with an arrogant county commission, you know why. The further away from the voter, the more arrogant they become.

    This will fail as a Constitutional Amendment and it should.

    Let them believe “It’s gaining steam,” and they can run their next campaign with this stump speech, “Send me back, I want to stay longer.”

    I thought we had enough career politicians already.

  3. hankreardan says:

    If want to have some pressure on the politicans . open up the ballot for third parties to run. Georgia is one of the hardest states in the nation to get on the ballot if you have not sold your soul to one of the big two.

  4. I’m open to the idea for state Senators, but definitely not House members. A House district can seriously trend one way or the other in a 4 year period, whereas a Senate district because of its size is less inclined to do so greatly.

    However wouldn’t Courts mandate that all seats be up after the new apportionment? You can’t have one set of Senators serving under one map and another under another…

    Maybe the solution is to have all Senators run in Presidential years only, as a powerful mid-term check to the Governor’s elections.

  5. Warrior says:

    Who signed this thing? And who didn’t? Who wants to extend their terms and who doesn’t want the voters involved? Name names!

  6. Jason Pye says:


    The bill isn’t online yet. It’ll be up tomorrow, but the first four signers are:

    1) John Douglas (R)
    2) Seth Harp (R)
    3) Tommie Williams (R)
    4) Robert Brown (D)

    All 22 Democrats signed it and all but just a few Republicans.

  7. atlantaman says:

    “The further away from the voter, the more arrogant they become.”

    That’s not such a bad thing and a major foundational concept behind the upper chamber and the lower chamber in our Federal Government. The idea is to keep the lower chamber more in-tune to the immediate whims of the people, while the upper chamber, with longer terms, hopefully provides a more foreward thinking long-term perspective.

    Other then representing a district three times the size of the House, there is no difference between the two chambers in Georgia. I’ve often wondered what’s the point of the two seperate bodies?

    Giving the Senate a 4 year term I think would set-up an important and needed distinction between the two bodies.

    I believe 4 year terms for House members is an extrodinarily bad idea. Of course one must always be suspicious of laws passed by elected bodies unto themselves in the name of self-preservation.

    Here is a often quoted argument, and possibly a folktale, between Washington and Jefferson:

    Washington favored having two chambers of Congress, while Jefferson thought the second chamber was unnecessary. The two men were arguing the issue while drinking coffee when Washington asked Jefferson, “Why did you pour that coffee into your saucer?” “To cool it,” replied Jefferson. “Even so,” said Washington, “we pour legislation into the senatorial saucer to cool it.”

  8. Calybos1 says:

    Anything that gets such broad bipartisan agreement CAN’T be good for the non-legislators among us (i.e., everybody).

  9. LoyaltyIsMyHonor says:

    “However wouldn’t Courts mandate that all seats be up after the new apportionment? You can’t have one set of Senators serving under one map and another under another…”

    That’s a very good point Chris. I wonder if that’s addressed in the legislation? Erick, you’re the election guru, any comment?

  10. That’s why I think if they switched to four year terms they’d have to all run in the same year, and it would be smart to have them run in Presidential years instead of gubernatorial years.

  11. commonsense says:

    A prediction– If this passes it will be the one thing nonpolitcal people in GA know about the session (maybe payday lending too) and they will react negatively to it.

    Think of the polling
    “Do you agree strongly, somewhat, or not at all that Senators should be held accountable less often?”

    The policy of this might make sense, the politcs sure as hell doesn’t

  12. TigerLily says:

    The brain drain at the captiol is unreal especially in the smaller body of the state Senate. Personally, I agree with others on here that the Senate term should be for four years (not the odd/even model) and the House term should be for 2 years.

    I think in the past with this legislation, Speaker Murphy always made certain the House and Senate would have four year terms as worded on the ballot and the measure failed.

    This will be an interesting bill to watch. I believe there is already a house bill that has had a hearing which would allow for four year terms in that chamber.

  13. Chris says:

    I don’t like the “half run one year, half run the next” – too confusing.

    The suggestion to have the entire Senate run once every four years as part of the Prez cycle is better.

    The concern there is that during a presidential campaign the electorate’s focus will be on national issues, and the Senators will face less scrutiny over bad decisions they’ve made.

    I think the Senate should run every four years with the Governor. That would put the focus on state issues across the board.

    The State House should run every two years.

  14. mercergirl says:

    I agree with those who think the House should stay as is, I certainly understand some of the thought behind changing it- that being that House members are constantly campaigning (because let’s face it, they are)- but at the same time I think that changing things would allow them to be less accountable for their actions.

    If nothing else, I would hope more thought and debate goes into this before voted on.

  15. Other Chris, I think Georgia voters can walk and chew gum at the same time. Put the Senators up the opposite years from the Governor. That way when a Governor gets elected he has a House that was elected with him but a Senate two years prior that can moderate him somewhat. Likewise, if people don’t like the direction their governor is headed, they can send a midterm correction in their Senate vote.

  16. ConservativeCaucus says:

    Why do I feel that our state legislators are becoming more like their Washington counterparts – concerned with protecting incumbency.

    While the argument can be a plausible one for the Senate, this is an outrageously bad idea for the House. On top of it all, it is bad politics… why not give themselves a 50% pay increase while they are at it?

  17. LymanHall says:

    Chris Farris’ plan is the best. House members every two years. All Senators every 4 years with the governor. We don’t want Senators hiding behind the excitement of a presidential race. Let their actions be evaluated to the max.

  18. Warrior says:

    According to InsiderAdvantage, Johnson, Balfour and Seabaugh did not sign. 3 of the top 5 Senate leaders got it right. This doesn’t get to the floor – even with 53 signatures.

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