The Union Recorder

Local News

January 30, 2013

Ga. House speaker proposes lobbyist spending ban

ATLANTA — Lobbyists would face restrictions on wining and dining individual elected officials in Georgia under a plan released Tuesday by the top-ranking Republican in the House, though his legislation leaves loopholes and falls short of a total ban.

The plan marks an about-face for House Speaker David Ralston. Ralston had long defended Georgia's existing system, which allows lobbyists to spend as much as they want on lawmakers so long as those expenditures are publicly reported.

Ralston's position changed after roughly 81 percent of Georgia voters, more than 1 million people, voted this summer in favor of limiting lobbyist spending in nonbinding questions on the Republican and Democratic primary election ballots.

"It is essential that the public trust be maintained and that citizens have confidence in those they elect to govern," Ralston said during a news conference.

His plan would generally prohibit lobbyists from spending money on individual state lawmakers and elected officials. But it would not entirely prohibit lobbyist spending.

Lobbyists seeking to influence lawmakers could still pay for food, beverages or registration at events when legislative committees or subcommittees are invited. Those committees have major sway in the Statehouse and decide whether legislation worth millions of dollars to industries and other interests gets rewritten, quashed, or sent to the House or Senate floor for a vote.

In another exception, lobbyists could pay for the travel, lodging, meals and beverages for state lawmakers who are attending meetings that relate to their official duties. That travel can be a lucrative perk. In one notable case, a lobbyist paid $17,000 to take Ralston, his family and two others on a trip to Germany in 2010. Closer to home, industry and professional groups commonly invite lawmakers to annual meetings at vacation destinations such as the Georgia and Florida coasts.

Supporters of limiting lobbyist spending were concerned about provisions of Ralston's bill.

Text Only
Local News
Poll
AP Video
Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
Facebook
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Stocks
NDN Video
Famous Internet Cats Help Big Cause With Viral Video Raw: Obama Gets Hug From Special Olympian Snoop Dogg Narrating Animal Footage Is Perfect Tigers Acquire David Price - @TheBuzzeronFOX Russell Brand Slams Sean Hannity Over Gaza Conflict Segment Chapter Two: Composing for a film in retirement Woman's Dive Goes Terribly Wrong Brian Williams Reports on Daughter Allison Williams' 'Peter Pan' Casting News Did Jimmy Fallon Look Up Heidi Klum's Dress? What Drama? Miranda Kerr Poses Topless Plane crashes in San Diego Costco parking lot Justin Bieber Takes To Instagram To Diss Orlando Bloom You Won't Believe the Celeb Cameos in "Sharknado 2" Pitch Invading Morons Cause Chaos - @TheBuzzeronFOX Orlando Bloom 'Takes a Swing' at Justin Bieber In Ibiza Sadie Doesn't Want Her Brother to Grow Up "Maxim" Hotness! See Jessica Alba's Sizzling Spread Two women barely avoid being hit by train Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber Reportedly Came To Blows In Ibiza