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Friday, March 9, 2012 - 9:44am

Ethics Bill: Dead But Not Forgotten

One of the bills that didn’t survive the “crossover day deadline” at the Capitol, was an ethics bill to cap lobbyist spending. Senator McKoon, who helmed the bill has promised to work toward new ethics legislation for the next session.

Despite the bill dying, it’s tightened the belt on some lobbyist spending already.

The ethics bill would have put a $100 cap on gifts that lobbyists can give to legislators.

Currently, Georgia has no caps on gifts from lobbyists. Last year’s tab came to $1.8 million dollars; most of it is spent on food, trips and event tickets for legislators. . Every state surrounding Georgia has some sort of cap or ban on gifts.

Ethics watch dog groups, like Common Cause’s William Perry, say despite the bill not making it to law, lobbyists are on their heels—for now:

“Even though we didn’t pass the bill, we’ve seen its impact. A lot of lobbyists are trying to keep their expenses under 100, now they’re still making large expenses, they’re just splitting them up with other lobbyists.”

There was one legislative pass for ethics: The 2013 state budget will designate 250 thousand dollars to upgrade office technology for what was formerly the State’s Ethics Commission.

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