Gov. Nathan Deal Gov. Nathan Deal (Photo: John Disney/ALM)

Gov. Nathan Deal promoted a new constitutional business court to resolve complex litigation during the annual “Eggs and Issues” breakfast Wednesday.

Deal served up the business court idea during his eighth and last address to the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, which precedes the governor’s State of the State address to the Legislature, set for Thursday.

“As we address the issues that result from an ever-expanding state population, we will continue to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our state government,” Deal said. He noted that the Court Reform Council he established last year was tasked with reviewing current practices and procedures within the civil judicial system and the Office of State Administrative Hearings.

“One of the primary reform recommendations from that Council that will be included in legislation this session calls for a Business Court Constitutional Amendment—something long advocated for by many present today and throughout the private sector community,” Deal told the chamber.

“A constitutional business court would provide an efficient and dependable forum to litigants in every corner of the state for the resolution of complex matters,” Deal said. “Such a stable legal environment will help ensure that we remain the number one state in which to do business and also provide relief to the demands placed on our superior and state courts, making our judicial system as a whole more efficient.”

The governor urged business leaders to lobby the Legislature for the court. “If this is an issue you are interested in—and you should be—I encourage you to talk to your members of the General Assembly, because it will require a two-thirds majority vote to put this much-needed reform on the ballot,” Deal said.

He also used the occasion to recount his two terms in office, starting at the height of the Great Recession—when the state had only two days’ worth of expenses in its rainy day fund—to now, with a $2.3 billion surplus. “Eight years ago, I campaigned to govern on five major issues: tax relief, education improvements, transportation funding reform, criminal justice reform and a strengthened economy with new jobs and opportunity,” Deal said. “I would strongly suggest to you that over the last seven years, my administration—along with the General Assembly—has addressed each of these areas of need.”

The constitutional amendment for business litigation and the efforts of the Court Reform Council follow the much broader criminal justice reform movement Deal launched, which reduced the prison population by launching accountability courts all over the state to reform nonviolent offenders.