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05 February 2010

Perdue: Appoint, Not Elect The Insurance, Labor and Agriculture Commissioners

For years, Georgia voters have elected the State School Superintendent, Agriculture, Insurnace and Labor Commissioners as well as the State School Superintendent. But under a new plan by Governor Perdue, those positions would be appointed beginning in 2014.

Gov. Sonny Perdue will announce plans today for a major restructuring of state government that would make four constitutional offices appointed, rather than elected, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has learned.

Perdue’s plan, which would require approval of voters in November, would allow future governors to appoint the state’s insurance, labor and agriculture commissioners, as well as the state school superintendent.

“Many states have moved towards a cabinet form of government so that agency heads can focus on policy outcomes and not worry about the next election cycle,” Perdue spokesman Bert Brantley said Thursday.

Gould Sheinin, Aaron (2010-2-5). Perdue seeks a shake-up of state government. Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved on 2010-2-5.

Lately, I've been talking a lot about Georgia needing bold and visionary leaders. This new idea by Gov. Perdue certainly qualifies as bold. Anything that re-structures government is a bold idea.

Since Perdue's proposal is a constitutional amendment, it will require a 2/3rds vote in both the Georgia House and Senate. There are 104 Republicans in the House and 34 Republicans in the Senate meaning that a handful of Democrats need to support the measure in order for it to be placed on the November ballot.

I agree with Perdue's spokesman. Officials in charge of state agencies should be focus on policy, not elections. Making the State School Superintendent, Agriculture, Insurance and Labor Commissioners appointed rather than elected would allow these officials to work towards efficiency instead of the next campaign.

And, for those wondering about the loss of checks and balances, the Georgia Senate would check the governor's power by confirming his or her appointees with a vigorous debate over their qualifications (including, I hope, confirmation hearings open to the public).