The Georgia House on Monday overwhelmingly approved a historic package of ethics reforms that would forever change how legislators and lobbyist interact and return power to the state ethics commission.
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House Bill 142: a ban on lobbyist gifts
Major provisions of the landmark legislation passed by the House Monday:
- Restores “rule-making” authority to the state ethics commission, which means the commission would again have the right to interpret the intent of state law and write regulations to carry it out. It was stripped of that authority by former House Speaker Glenn Richardson.
- Bans spending by lobbyists on public officials with the following exceptions: — Spending for events serving the entire General Assembly or established groups of lawmakers, including caucuses, committees, subcommittees and local delegations. — Payment for “actual and reasonable” travel expenses, with the exception of airfare, for public officials and staff members if the travel relates to the official’s official duties, plus food and beverages during that travel for public officers, spouses and staff members.
- Expands the definition of lobbyists to require registration of people doing unpaid lobbying on behalf of an organization.
- Volunteer lobbyists who register but do not spend money on legislators do not have to file periodic spending reports.
- Volunteer lobbyists who spend no more than five days at the General Assembly annually need not register.
- Lobbyists for state agencies need no longer file expense reports.
House Bill 143: new reporting requirements
- Requires members of the General Assembly to report money raised between Jan. 1 and the start of the legislative session no later than five days after the start of the session.
- Allows local public officials to file their campaign finance disclosures locally, rather than with the state.
- Removes the filing requirement for city and county officials who receive $2,500 or less in campaign contributions or expenditures.
- Local officials whose contributions or expenditures fall between $2,500 and $5,000 file twice a year during election years instead of four times.