Three Days Left

The Senate yesterday passed their revised version of House Bill 142 a proposed reform of lobbyist expenditure laws.

Here’s a description of the Senate version from yesterday’s Peach Pundit Daily (which if you aren’t subscribed to why not?)

On The Senate Floor Today: The Senate will take up their revised version of House Speaker Ralston’s ethics reform bills. The Senate version bans lobbyist expenditures except when overridden by “authorized rule, executive order, regulation, ordinance, or resolution which governs acceptance of expenditures by such public officer and his or her staff” and then such expenditures cannot exceed $100. Consequently the House and Senate, every City Council, County Commission, and School Board must either accept the complete ban on lobbyist expenditures or adopt their own rules allowing them. The Senate already has rules in place allowing lobbyist expenditures. Oh, and Citizen Activists can remain Citizen Activists, except for that pesky provision of current law which says if they spend more than 10% of their time per month at the Capitol attempting to influence the outcome of legislation. Then they must cough up $300 and register as a Lobbyist.

For a description of the version as passed the House see my post on February 26th, the day after it passed.

The Senate has not taken action on House Bill 143, the other ethics bill proposed by Speaker Ralston and which passed the House on February 25th.

Jim Galloway spoke with Speaker Ralston after the Senate vote.

In any fight over what is – and what isn’t – good and moral behavior, moral high ground is essential. That’s what the coming few days will be about, and the House speaker knows it. “I think what both chambers have to ask themselves is, what really keeps the faith with the people of Georgia?” Ralston said.

Speaker Ralston is right. There has been plenty written and said about changing how things are done under the Gold Dome and often it seems doing what’s best for the people of Georgia has been shoved aside in an effort to score political points. We have three Legislative days to pass a bill and I for one don’t want to wait until next year. The Senate and House versions of this bill are not so far apart that a reasonable agreement can’t be reached.

16 comments

  1. A couple of thoughts:

    1. If no ethics reform of any sort gets passed because of the end of session p!$$ing match between the House and Senate, as a voter – I will hold the whole lot of them accountable. Suck it up, compromise, and get something of worth passed.
    2. If some is associated with a PAC, hold your head high and proudly identify yourself as a lobbyist.
    3. The loophole of not having to disclose something for an “entire county delegation” needs to be closed. Real talk – most of Georgia’s smaller counties only have one representative i.e. one person IS the delegation.
    4. When not having to disclose something in which “an entire committee” is invited, more than half of the committee members should be in attendance. To invite twelve people and only two show up – shenanigans.
    5. Approved “caucuses” made of three drinking buddies – shenanigans.

    Gentleman – GO. HAVE. A. BEER. TOGETHER. and get this $#!te worked out, please.

    • Charlie says:

      I take issue with number one. We don’t need to pass a bill for the sake of passing a bill.

      We need to pass a bill that actually deals with the many well publicized and documented ethical lapses that have occurred in GA just during the last 5 years. Does “reform” make individual officials responsible if there is a lapse? Is there a clear and linear process when a lapse has been discovered to bring charges against an official with a process that is free from their interference? My initial read on these bills is no.

      If you can’t tell me how this bill would have addressed the issues of Don Balfour, Glen Richardson, John Oxendine, or the many others who abused the system openly and transparently then please forgive me if I’m not willing to pretend ethics reform is about whether I can buy a legislator a hamburger at Ann’s Snack Bar or if Debbie Dooley has to register as a lobbyist.

      • Ok, then start the conversation of how to appropriately fund an ethics commission and give Sam Olens the ability to enpanel a grand jury.

        Charlie, it’s no secret that I’m late to the party, but as I see more and more of the BS happening down there, it makes me sick to my stomach.

        The juvenile Sharks vs Jets of the House and Senate is right there at the top of the list though. Votes are a Molotov Cocktail of Capture the Flag, Mean Girls, and Greek Hell Week.

        Enough. Just damn.

        • rrrrr says:

          If “whatever” passes for reform impedes or outright eliminates the ability of citizens at large to bring public charges – it isn’t reform, but an attempt at the foulest of CYA and punishment of the taxpayer.

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          Bridget Cantrell, March 23, 2013 at 3:01 pm-

          “…but as I see more and more of the BS happening down there, it makes me sick to my stomach.”

          Welcome to my world…

      • John Vestal says:

        “…. whether I can buy a legislator a hamburger at Ann’s Snack Bar….”

        Pretty sure aggravated assault statutes are already on the books.

      • ethicsforall2013 says:

        Charlie the Ethics Reformers made ethics reform all about buying a legislator a hamburger. The pledge Common Cause and the Atlanta TEA Party demanded politicians sign said to create a stand alone bill to cap gifts at $100. Dozens of politicians signed it including Don Balfour. Should we be surprised ethics reform has come to mean a gift cap?

  2. Dave Bearse says:

    The transparency legislation of a few years ago was mostly good legislation. This year’s Senate and House Bills are improvements on the status quo, but if it was a choice of one or the other, the House Bill is my favorite—a $100 cap is business as usual for 95% of the gift giving.

    Charlie identifies the legislation’s failures—no accountibility on the part of legislators nor independent investigation or oversight in pointing out that it doesn’t address the matters that brought ethics to public attention (Richardson, Balfour).

  3. Al Gray says:

    Gold Dome Cowboy (with due apologies to Glen Campbell, but at least I haven’t sung it in the House Chamber – yet.)

    I’ve been working with these cheats so long
    Plucking the same gal’s thong
    I know every hack in the streetwalks of Peachtree
    Where rustle’s the name of the game
    And nice guys get trashed away
    In the spin and the blame.
    Theres been a load of compromising
    On the road to my carousing
    But I am gonna be where the funds keep raining on me

    I’m a Gold Dome Cowboy
    Ridin’ out with a ‘ho, pretending I’m a gigolo
    I’am a Gold Dome Cowboy
    Being paid for battles for people I intend to owe
    And offers coming over the phone

    I really don’t mind the shame
    And a smile comes with all the gain
    But you’re down when you’re on the plan and takin’ the low pay
    And I dream of the people I’ll screw
    With a bribe and a mens’ room nudge up against my shoe.
    Theres been a load of compromising
    On the road to my carousing
    But I am gonna be where the funds keep raining on me.

    I’m a Gold Dome Cowboy
    Ridin’ out with a ‘ho, pretending I’m a gigolo
    I’m a Gold Dome Cowboy
    Getting PACs and bundles from people I intend to owe
    And offers comin’ over the phone….

  4. Nonchalant says:

    My view is that I really don’t care if Lockheed Martin gives a $135 model of an F-35 to every legislator, or if $200 worth of Claxton fruit cakes show up on doorsteps. Having someone pay for your meals and take you on trips, on the other hand, empowers a certain spirit of entitlement dangerous to both soul and simple republican frugality, and is not to be desired.

    A state senator being courted by men with money, and who is catered to as an emperor would be, may have no issues crushing someone in his district if that person becomes inconvenient. One follows the other.

  5. Dave Bearse says:

    Stefan’s mention of Atlanta Unfiltered in the juvenile justice post was a reminder to check in there, having not done so in over a week.

    Read how ALEC spent $170,000 on on junkets for Georgia legislators during the 2006-2008 period, how Georgia citizens, despite new transparency since then will continue to remain in the dark, and how the junket money will continue to flow despite proposed limits on gifts. No one would never had known unless a Florida conservative hadn’t boo-booed.

    http://atlantaunfiltered.com/2013/03/22/170k-in-alec-junkets-untouched-by-gift-cap/

    Judson Hill was third in the nation with $10,392. Chip Rogers, Martin Scott and John Wiles were in the top 20. Not to worry, it’s only averages a couple thousand dollars in junkets a year each for Georgia’s biggest recipients, and the corporations providing the dough are doing for public good.

    2006-2008 is old news. Buzz, how much have you received in scholarships since in office?

  6. polpol says:

    There really don’t need to be superficial limits, as a $100 limit leads to creative abuses…..but there needs to be full disclosure of any expenditure…$1 to $50000……and perhaps disclosure by both sides to ensure transparency, and coordination so that all entities know that is being spent and reported…..

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