Thu., December 27, 2012 3:03pm (EST)

Ethics Push Revived
By Jeanne Bonner
Updated: 2 years ago

ATLANTA  —  
In a July referendum, more than one million Georgians in both major parties said they would support a cap on gifts from lobbyists to state legislators. Since then the Georgia Ethics Alliance (whose members are seen at the Capitol earlier this year in the photo) has conducted a series of town hall meetings around the state. (Photo: Jeanne Bonner)
In a July referendum, more than one million Georgians in both major parties said they would support a cap on gifts from lobbyists to state legislators. Since then the Georgia Ethics Alliance (whose members are seen at the Capitol earlier this year in the photo) has conducted a series of town hall meetings around the state. (Photo: Jeanne Bonner)
State lawmakers will again try to pass an ethics reform bill in the upcoming legislative session. This time, with pressure from Tea Party groups and others, there’s a good chance a gift-cap will become law.

In a July referendum, more than one million Georgians in both major parties said they would support a cap on gifts from lobbyists to state legislators.

Since then the Georgia Ethics Alliance has conducted a series of town hall meetings around the state.

State Sen. Joshua McKoon of Columbus has been leading the fight in the legislature.

He says many lawmakers have changed their stance on ethics reform since the last legislative session.

“We’ve gone from a situation where no one wanted to be seen speaking about this issue to a situation where I think we actually almost have a rush to file ethics legislation,” he said.

He said the change is going to bring about a robust debate on the issue.

"You’re hearing from just about every quarter," he said. "You’re at least hearing different proposals on the table whereas during the 2012 legislative session, we couldn’t even get a committee hearing to discuss any of these proposals.”

McKoon and others are pushing a $100 cap on gifts from lobbyists to lawmakers. There’s no limit now.

He also plans to file a bill that would create a permanent earmark for the state ethics commission.

Other lawmakers are proposing a total ban on lobbyists’ gifts. But officials with Tea Party groups say there are ways to get around an outright ban. And they fear those proposed such an idea want to create a scenario where there are competing ethics bills and neither one passes.