Proposals would lower age minimums to serve in the Georgia Legislature

On the first day this year of the new legislative session, some lawmakers called Monday for lowering the Senate and House age minimums for service in the Georgia General Assembly.

State Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, wants to lower the minimum age for service in the state Senate from 25 to 21. State Rep. Ben Harbin, R-Evans, is expected to propose lowering the House age minimum from 21 to 18.

Proposed constitutional amendments from both men are expected to be filed as soon as Tuesday, with McKoon circulating a draft of his legislation Monday on the Senate floor. He said the proposal was inspired both by national examples — an 18-year-old recently won election to West Virginia’s House of Delegates — and his relationship with local groups including the bipartisan Young Georgians in Government.

“Twenty-one is the age of majority — we’ve asked them to serve in the military, we’ve asked them to serve on juries…I don’t think there’s any reason to throw up artificial barriers,” McKoon said. “I think this is common sense.”

Both proposals would require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to pass. With it, legislators can vote to put the measure on the ballot without Gov. Nathan Deal’s signature. Final approval, however, would still be needed from the state’s voters.