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Unofficial Opinion 95-16

Unofficial Opinion 95-16

August 18, 1995
To: 

State Senator
District 17

Re: 

Resolution 70, 1986 Ga. Laws 529, adopting English as the official language of the State of Georgia has the force and effect of law.

You have requested an opinion concerning whether Resolution 70, 1986 Ga. Laws 529, which adopts English as the official language of the State of Georgia has the force and effect of law. Your question stems from the fact that this legislation was enacted in the form of a resolution rather than an act of the General Assembly and has not been incorporated into the Official Code of Georgia Annotated other than by mention in an editor's note. See O.C.G.A. Vol. 38, p. 289.

As I have opined in the past, there is a lack of judicial comment in Georgia concerning the effect of a joint resolution of the General Assembly. 1981 Op. Att'y Gen. 81-53, p. 125 n.5; 1971 Op. Att'y Gen. 71-39, p. 52. At least one Georgia case does appear to recognize the binding effect of a resolution where it received the constitutional majority of votes necessary for passage and was duly approved by the Governor. Fair v. State, 220 Ga. 750, 752 (1965). The courts in other states have held that a joint resolution has the force and effect of law where formalities and procedures necessary to validate a legislative act are followed. 1971 Op. Att'y Gen. 71-39, p. 52. Thus, an examination of this resolution is in order.

I have examined Resolution 70, 1986 Ga. Laws 529, which is on file with the Office of the Secretary of State, and the resolution bears the signatures of the necessary public officials including approval by the Governor, the dates of reading in both houses of the General Assembly, and the votes

showing passage in both houses. Compliance with these requirements for valid legislation is indicative of the General Assembly's intent that the resolution be treated as the law of this state. Given that the resolution has complied with all prerequisites necessary for passage of an act of the General Assembly, it is my unofficial opinion that the resolution adopting English as the official language of the State of Georgia has the force and effect of law. 1971 Op. Att'y Gen. 71-39; compare 1981 Op. Att'y Gen. 81-53 in which the formalities were not satisfied.

Prepared by:

WILLIAM M. DROZE
Assistant Attorney General