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Tuesday, March 23, 2010 - 5:22pm

Ethics Reform Legislation May Reappear

Ethics reform legislation has fallen from a highlight issue in this General Assembly session. And a non-partisan watchdog group says true sweeping reform may not get passed this year.

When Republican David Ralston took-over as House Speaker in January, one of his points of emphasis was passing meaningful ethics reform in the wake of the Glenn Richardson scandal and following resignation.

Ralston’s original House bill called for limits on lobbyist gifts and spending. But Republican State House ethics committee chairman Joe Wilkinson says instead of a focus on that, there’s now a different emphasis.

“We believe that full and immediate disclosure is the most important thing. And that’s something the Speaker and I have been working on. So that’s certainly more critical than anything else.”

But Bill Bozarth says lawmakers not moving forward on comprehensive ethics reform jeopardizes the public trust. He’s with the non-partisan advocacy group Common Cause Georgia.

“People don’t want to give up the old ways of doing things easily. I think that’s the reluctance we’re seeing. We’re just hoping the leaders of both chambers are willing to step-up and take us to a new level in that respect. That’s the fundamental sea-change that we’re looking for.”

Legislative leaders are set to unveil some type of ethics legislation this week. Bozarth says he’s not optimistic it will go far enough.

Crossover day is fast approaching. The 30th day of the 40-day General Assembly session arrives Friday. It's the last day for legislation to pass through one chamber before it has the chance to become law.