State and Federal Legislators
State and Federal Legislators
You have elected officials who represent you at every level of the government. It’s their job to ensure that your needs are being met during the law-making process. So, how do you know who to contact in state or federal government with questions, comments, or ideas about legislation or public policies?
You’ve probably heard of Georgia’s annual legislative session. It's 40 days at the beginning of the year when our state senators and representatives — who collectively form the Georgia General Assembly — gather inside the Capitol in Atlanta to discuss bills and vote to create new laws.
The bills change from year to year, but every year, the General Assembly must determine the state’s operating budget. The budget is generally considered the most important item discussed and takes up about half the hours spent in session.
Outside of the 40 days in session, members of the General Assembly meet in committees to discuss proposed legislation in more detail. These meetings occur year-round so the law-making process can continue efficiently when the legislators come together in January.
Other tasks include:
- Considering proposed amendments to the Georgia constitution: If both chambers pass the proposal with two-thirds of members giving it a “yea” (yes) vote, the question will be put to Georgia voters in an upcoming election.
- Establishing the legislative districts: Every 10 years, the General Assembly determines where districts begin and end for the state House, state Senate, and U.S. House.
With 180 state representatives, the Georgia House of Representatives is the larger of the two legislative bodies in Georgia.
The Speaker of the House is the House’s leader. This person is elected to the 2-year term of Speaker by their fellow representatives. The Speaker, along with an advising committee, assigns representatives to committees — typically 2 or 3 committees for each representative — and appoints Committee Chairs. The Speaker only votes on bills when needed to break a tie.
State representatives must be at least 21 years old, a Georgia resident for at least 2 years, and a resident of the district they represent for at least 1 year.
Less than one-third the size of the House, the Georgia Senate has 56 state senators.
The Lieutenant Governor leads as the President of the Senate and is elected directly by Georgia voters. As the second highest elected official in Georgia, the Lieutenant Governor can influence state policy and spending priorities. Like the Speaker of the House, the Lieutenant Governor appoints Committee Chairs and cannot vote on legislation.
State senators must serve on at least 3 committees during their 2-year term. Senators must be at least 25 years old, a Georgia resident for at least 2 years, and a resident of the district they represent for at least 1 year.
Find Your State Legislators
Do you see a state law that needs to change or have a need that’s not being met by Georgia government? You can get involved in Georgia’s law-making process by contacting your state legislators.
To find the state senator and representative for your district, simply enter your street address into the Open States search tool. This will also tell you what committees your legislators are on and what bills they manage. You can also see what district number you’re in for each chamber, which is helpful to know around election time.
All legislators in the federal government meet at the United States Capitol building in Washington, D.C., to debate and determine the laws that guide our country. As a whole, they are called the U.S. Congress, but they’re made up of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
We most often recognize Congress as the body that makes our nation’s laws. But they can actually do much more. Beyond making laws, Congress can:
- Declare war
- Determine the federal budget
- Impeach federal officers
- Approve presidential appointments
- Approve treaties
- Oversee and investigate the executive branch
Read the full text of Congress’s powers in Article I of the U.S. Constitution.
Members of Congress meet throughout the year, but the House and the Senate set their own schedules. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate take part in writing laws. In fact, the U.S. law-making process is very similar to Georgia’s process. Still, there are important differences between the two institutions.
Like on the state level, the U.S. House of Representatives is larger than the Senate. It includes 435 total members, plus nonvoting members from Washington, D.C., and the U.S. territories. The size of a state’s population decides how many representatives it has. Georgia has 14 U.S. representatives. This number is determined by the Georgia General Assembly, as it’s their job to assess and redraw the lines for our congressional districts every 10 years using population data from the U.S. Census count.
The House is led by the Speaker of the House, who is selected each 2-year term by members. The Speaker presides over the House, appoints chairmen for the Committee of the Whole, appoints special or select committees, and appoints conference committees, among other duties. The Speaker can vote on bills, but typically does not.
In addition to its part in the legislative process, the House has a few unique powers, including:
- Impeaching — or formally charging — federal officials for crimes or impropriety
- Electing a president if Electoral College results are indecisive
- Introducing revenue and spending bills (which the Senate can later amend)
U.S. representatives serve the congressional district that elected them in 2-year terms. U.S. representatives must be at least 25 years old, a U.S. citizen for at least 7 years, and must live in the state they represent.
Contact Georgia’s U.S. Representatives
Do you have an issue that needs to make it to Congress? Consider contacting your representative.
You can find your representative by zip code on the U.S. House website. If your 5-digit zip code crosses district lines, you’ll further narrow down the results with your exact street address. Not sure what congressional district you live in? This is also a great way to find your district number — which, as with the state government, is helpful around election time.
The info summary about your representative links to their website and contact page. You can reach out to them by mail, email, or phone. Social media also may be an option. These days, most legislators have a Facebook or Twitter account and can communicate with constituents via these social media platforms. If the representative you want to reach has a social media presence, you'll find it on their House page.
When you contact your representative, you can refer to them with the title “Representative” or “The Honorable.”
In addition to the individual mailing address your representative provides, you can address postal mail as follows:
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
The U.S. House website also provides a list of House committees. If you want to contact a committee, you can find that committee’s contact information on its page. You can also use the address above to contact a House committee by mail; just replace the first line with the name of the committee. If you choose to contact your House representative or a committee by mail, be sure to include a return address.
To counter the population-based balance of the House, the U.S. Senate has 2 senators from each state. This ensures all states have an equal voice in the Senate.
The Vice President of the United States leads as the president of the Senate. Every 4 years, the Vice President receives the electoral votes for President and Vice President and reads the results in front of Congress. Over time, the role of the Vice President has transitioned into one primarily focused on the president’s administration. Vice Presidents in recent years tend to preside over the Senate only on ceremonial occasions and for tie-breaking votes.
In addition to sharing in the legislative process, the Senate has a few unique powers, including:
- Trying impeachments (acting as jury and judge)
- Approving or rejecting presidential nominations to executive and judicial offices
- Approving or rejecting treaties with other countries from the executive branch
U.S. senators serve in 6-year terms. To maintain stability, the Senate is divided into 3 “classes.” Every 2 years, members of 1 of these 3 classes face election or re-election. The current terms of service are:
- Class I: 2019-2025
- Class II: 2015-2021
- Class III: 2017-2023
Senators must be at least 30 years old, a US citizen for at least 9 years, and reside in the state they represent.
Contact Georgia’s U.S. Senators
U.S. Senators represent all the people of their state, rather than those who live in a specific region of the state. For that reason, you can contact either of Georgia’s 2 senators. Whether you prefer to use mail, email, or phone, you can find contact information for both Georgia senators online. Social media also may be an option. These days, most legislators have a Facebook or Twitter account and can communicate with constituents via these social media platforms. If the senator you want to reach has a social media presence, you'll find it on their Senate page.
When you contact your senator, you can refer to them with the title “The Honorable.”
In addition to the individual mailing address each Senator provides, you can address postal mail as follows:
The Honorable (Name)
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
The U.S. Senate website also provides a list of Senate committees. If you want to contact a committee, you can find that committee’s contact information on its page. You can also use the address above to contact a Senate committee by mail; just replace the first line with the name of the committee.