May 6, 2013 •
House Bill 142 and House Bill 143 become new ethics law
Governor Nathan Deal signed two pieces of ethics legislation aimed at increasing public confidence in state government on May 6, 2013. House Bill 142 restores rulemaking powers to the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, clarifies and modifies classification as a lobbyist, and sets a gift limit of $75 per lobbyist gift.
House Bill 143 requires more campaign transparency for local races and allows for public notice of any campaign contributions given to members of the General Assembly leading up to the start of the legislative session. The bills become effective January 1, 2014.
March 29, 2013 •
Unanimous vote comes shortly before adjournment
Legislators have passed an ethics overhaul capping lobbyist gifts at $75 and eliminating a prior proposal to require lobbying registration for volunteer advocates. The House and Senate voted unanimously for House Bill 142 shortly before adjournment on Thursday, March 28, 2013.
This is the state’s first limitation on gifts to public officials. Exceptions to the $75 limit include committee dinners, dinners for caucuses, and certain lobbyist-funded travel. The $75 cap is per occurrence and per lobbyist.
There is no explicit limit on the number of gifts permitted. As part of the deal, volunteers will not have to register as lobbyists unless they are reimbursed $250 or more in expenses from an organization.
UPDATE: The bill will also remove the $300 lobbyist registration and renewal fee when it becomes effective on January 1, 2014, following approval by the Governor
March 25, 2013 •
Both chambers now seeking compromise on House Bill 142
The House version of the bill bans most gifts from lobbyists to individual legislators, but allows unlimited gifts to legislative groups. The Senate version imposes a $100 gift cap and erases the exception for legislative groups, but does not limit the number of gifts allowed. The Senate version also erases the House version’s expanded lobbyist registration for unpaid advocates.
Both chambers are expected to appoint a joint committee to negotiate in an effort to reach compromise before the session reaches its scheduled end on Thursday, March 28, 2013.
Photo of the Georgia State Capitol dome by Connor Carey on Wikipedia.
March 1, 2013 •
Georgia and Missouri
This year’s push for ethics reform in several state legislatures could not happen fast enough for some elected officials. Georgia’s Senate and Missouri’s Secretary of State, Jason Kander, decided on day one to take matters into their own hands by adopting new gift rules for their respective offices.
The Georgia Senate imposed a $100 limit on gifts from lobbyists. Senators approved the gift cap on the opening day of the 2013 General Assembly session as part of new rules governing the chamber’s operations for the current two-year term. The new rule does not apply to travel costs or to gifts provided to groups of senators, including committees. The rule does allow lobbyists to give $100 gifts on multiple occasions. Meanwhile, House Speaker David Ralston has unveiled an ethics reform bill aimed at expanding the definition of a lobbyist and restricting lobbyist gifts. House Bill 142 would ban even the smallest expenditure of a lobbyist if for the benefit of a single member of the General Assembly. Lobbyists would still be permitted to spend on committees, caucuses, and expenses to public officers for trips to conferences and meetings.
Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, sworn in on January 14, 2013, announced a new ethics policy as part of his “Day 1 Achievements.” The new policy prohibits the staff in his office from accepting gifts from lobbyists. State administrative policy already curtails what state employees may accept from lobbyists, but agencies are free to adopt stricter guidelines. Additionally, Missouri’s House and Senate are both considering bills to curb lobbyist spending. House Bill 139 would prohibit General Assembly members, family, and staff from accepting more than $1,000 per calendar year from lobbyists. Senate Bill 181 would prohibit statewide elected officials, legislators, staff, employees, and family from accepting gifts over $50 from a lobbyist.
February 26, 2013 •
Senate may consider House Bill 142 with additional limits on lobbyist gifts.
The House of Representatives has passed ethics legislation to bar lobbyist gifts to individual lawmakers and enact new rules on lobbyist registration.
House Bill 142 passed 164-4 on Monday, February 26, 2013 and now goes to the Senate.
Critics hope the Senate provides a limit for the gift ban exceptions, which allow for unlimited gifts to groups of legislators such as committees and caucuses.
February 22, 2013 •
Vote expected on Monday for House Bill 142 and 143.
Two ethics reform bills will likely be voted on by the full House on Monday, February 25, 2013. House Bill 142, sponsored by Speaker David Ralston, would ban lobbyist spending on individual lawmakers, return regulatory powers to the state ethics commission, and require activists representing an organization to register as lobbyists.
House Bill 143, also sponsored by Ralston, would require lawmakers to file a report early in the legislative session detailing campaign contributions and expenditures during the five-day period before the Legislature convenes.
Photo of the Georgia State Capitol by Autiger on Wikipedia.
January 30, 2013 •
Lobbyist definition expanded, gifts restricted
House Speaker David Ralston has unveiled an ethics reform bill aimed at expanding the definition of a lobbyist and restricting gifts from a lobbyist. House Bill 142 would define a lobbyist to include an individual who advocates for the purpose of influencing a public officer whether the individual is compensated or working pro bono.
The new definition does away with both the $1,000 expenditure and 10 percent time spent thresholds for lobbyist registration. The bill, as originally filed, would ban even the smallest expenditure of a lobbyist if for the benefit of a single member of the General Assembly.
Lobbyists would still be permitted to spend on committees, caucuses, and expenses to public officers for trips to conferences and meetings.
State and Federal Communications, Inc. provides research and consulting services for government relations professionals on lobbying laws, procurement lobbying laws, political contribution laws in the United States and Canada. Learn more by visiting stateandfed.com.