House approves bill to remake and expand judicial watchdog

ATLANTA (AP) - The Georgia House of Representatives has approved a bill that would remake and expand the state's judicial watchdog agency.

The legislation approved Thursday would increase the number of members of the Judicial Qualifications Commission from seven to 10 as of July 1. It also splits the commission into a seven-member investigative panel and a three-member hearing panel.

The governor would appoint a lawyer to the investigative panel, while the state Supreme Court would appoint two judges and the lieutenant governor and House speaker would each appoint one lawyer and one non-lawyer. The hearing panel would include one non-lawyer chosen by the governor and a judge and an attorney selected by the Supreme Court.

All appointees would have to be confirmed by the Senate.

The bill now goes to the Senate.