it is a step in the right direction.The bill would also reduce the contribution limit for candidates for statewide office, and set a hard limit for legislative candidates, rather than the current guidelines pegged to the cost of living.
story may be found at http://www.times-herald.com/local/House-ethics-bill-gains-support
House ethics bill gains support By Tom Baxter,
Morris News Service Published Wenesday January 13, 2010
ATLANTA – A Republican bill to strengthen ethics laws is gaining bi-partisan strength in the House since its introduction Monday, the first day of the current legislative session.
House Judiciary Chairman Wendell Willard said Tuesday he has more than 40 co-signers for an ethics bill which will limit the value of gifts lobbyists can give legislators to a value of $100 or less, and crack down on transfers of campaign money from one legislator to another.
It would also prohibit members of the governor's staff from registering as lobbyists for a year after leaving their jobs – the same standard which the law currently sets for legislators.
After a similar bill was "dead on arrival" when it was introduced last year, Willard said, he worked with representatives of public-interest groups to craft a new bill and began to circulate it among legislators last fall, before the scandal which brought down former House Speaker Glenn Richardson. He said his bill was "not motivated by those problems."
"I see some things we do that need to have better guidelines, and that's what we're trying to address," the Atlanta Republican said.
Willard's co-sponsors include Minority Leader DuBose Porter and Democratic Caucus Chairman Calvin Smyre. Willard said the co-signers include a "good mixture" of Democrats and Republicans.
The $100 limit on gifts is less than the $25 limit proposed by Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur, * and the limits imposed by some states, which ban even the purchase of a cup of coffee for a legislator. But it would be a significant tightening, and would eliminate "the recourse of airplane tickets or tickets to big sporting events," Willard said.
Willard said his bill was "one of what will probably be several" pieces devoted to tightening ethics standards. He said he anticipated a joint House-Senate committee could be convened to reach a consensus bill.
* It is often hard to mention every legislator on every bill, but DuBose was also a cosponsor with Rep. Oliver. As mentioned here at Team DuBose in blog 22 and 21. Here is an excerpt from blog 21:
'In 2005, State Representative Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur, and I offered amendments to the Governor’s Ethics Package that were voted down by the Republican members of the committee. We also introduced a similar comprehensive measure in 2006, HB 47, but House Republican leaders buried it in committee and never gave it a hearing.'
the House Ethics Committee,
where the bill was assigned,
never even met that year.
never even met that year.
Also here is a copy of the joint press release from Oliver and Porter issued December 11, 2009
Oliver, Porter introduce Anti-Corruption Ethics Legislation
Atlanta – With substantial ethics reform needed more than ever at the state capitol, State Representative Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur, and House Democratic Leader and candidate for Governor in 2010, DuBose Porter, D-Dublin, are co-sponsoring anti-corruption ethics legislation for the upcoming session of the General Assembly. In 2005, Rep. Oliver and Rep. Porter offered amendments to the Governor’s Ethics Package that were voted down by the Republican members of the committee. Together they also introduced a similar comprehensive measure in 2006, HB 47, but House Republican leaders buried it in committee and never gave it a hearing. In fact, the House Ethics Committee, where the bill was assigned, never even met that year.
"We owe the people of Georgia more than the old Republican leadership has delivered on ethics reform. I sense a strong frustration by the rank and file of both parties, and we need and I expect a bi-partisan effort to restore faith in Georgia’s state government,” said Mary Margaret Oliver.
HB 890 lowers campaign contribution limits from $5,000 to $2,000 for a primary election, $3,000 to $1,000 for a primary run-off election, $5,000 to $3,000 for a general election, and $3,000 to $2,000 for a general election runoff. The bill will also limit contributions to political parties to $5,000. To curb the influence of special interest money, HB 891 sets a ban on gifts over $25 for state lawmakers. And lastly, HB 892 would establish public funding for judicial elections, which have seen an influx of partisan activity in recent years, threatening an impartial bench in Georgia.
“Georgia needs a bipartisan reform of the ethics law in our state. Had the contents of our earlier legislation been considered and adopted, the circumstances that evolved from the Republican House leadership, concerning the excessive amounts of lobbyist spending, could not have occurred. Passing anti-corruption ethics legislation will send a strong message to the citizens that lawmakers at the state capitol are serious about getting Georgia back on track and moving forward,” said DuBose Porter.
Representative Mary Margaret Oliver is a member of the Judiciary, Appropriations, Science and Technology and Governmental Affairs committees, and past Chairman of the Judiciary committees in both the House and the Senate.
House Democratic Leader DuBose Porter, a candidate for Governor in 2010, serves on the Ethics, Rules, Appropriations, and Agriculture and Consumer Affairs committees.