As originally written, the United States Constitution outlined the elections of Senators by each state's legislature. But after the 17th Amendment was ratified in 1913, senators have been elected directly by the states' voters. One hundred years later, a handful of state legislators in Georgia are hoping to revert back to the old way of doing things.
State House Resolution 273 was authored by Rep. Kevin Cooke, a Republican, who believes it would help restore the Founding Fathers' original intentions. The non-binding resolution calls on Congress to begin action to repeal the 17th Amendment. The process would require two-thirds approval by both the U.S. House and Senate and ratification by at least three-quarters of the states.
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In addition to Cooke, other sponsors listed on the resolution include: District 68 Rep. Dustin Hightower, R-Carrollton; District 25 Rep. Mike Dudgeon, R-Johns Creek; District 157 Rep. Delvis Dutton, R-Glennville; District 102 Rep. Buzz Brockway, R-Lawrenceville; and District 98 Rep. Josh Clark, R-Buford.
Cooke introduced a similar House resolution in 2010, but it never made it out of committee for a House floor vote.
“It’s a way we would again have our voice heard in the federal government, a way that doesn’t exist now,” Cooke said Monday afternoon. “This isn’t an idea of mine. This was what James Madison was writing. This would be a restoration of the Constitution, about how government is supposed to work.”
Cooke said the election of U.S. Senators by state legislatures was what Madison intended to give the states a check on the federal government, based on state sovereignty and ability of states to govern themselves.
“The fact that this coincides with the 100th anniversary gives us a pretty good snapshot of what has happened to the federal government since then,” he said. “The federal government has grown exponentially since the amendment was ratified. This would restore the constitution to what it was in 1913.”