The flow of bills seems unstoppable at the state Legislature as the session picks up steam. The House alone had a dozen bills on its calendar Thursday. But like Ebenezer Scrooge confronting the Ghost of Christmas Past, lawmakers this week are also dealing with a bill they passed last year. On Tuesday, lawmakers attended a joint Q&A session to straighten out the confusion. And then on Thursday, they scheduled a meeting to discuss a part of the bill that exempts caucuses (except it’s not clear what a caucus is).
Lawmakers in the Georgia Senate are expected to publicly release their version of proposed limits on lobbyist expenditures. The Senate Rules Committee planned to meet Thursday to discuss its proposed legislation.
House Speaker David Ralston of Blue Ridge plans to introduce legislation Tuesday calling for a total prohibition on what lobbyists can spend while trying to influence legislators. Right now, lobbyists can give as many gifts as they like if they disclose their spending on lawmakers.
Gov. Nathan Deal added a new wrinkle to the state’s ethics conversation in his State of the State address Thursday. He said any new ethics rules should apply to all state and local elected officials in addition to General Assembly members.
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.
The Senate Ethics reform package which would place a $100 gift cap on lobbyist gifts to legislators is now in the hands the Senate Rules Committee. But ethics watchdog groups say that’s a way to stall, if not kill, the bill altogether.