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
Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case Author Gabriel Garcia Marquez Dead at 87 Beau Biden Plans 2016 Run for Del. Governor Chelsea Clinton Is Pregnant Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show Obama Hopeful on Ukraine, Will Watch Russians Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Crew Criticized Over Handling of Ferry Disaster Agreement Reached to Calm Ukraine Tensions Raw: Pope Francis Performs Pre-easter Ritual Boston Bombing Survivors One Year Later Sister of Slain MIT Officer Reflects on Bombing
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
Funny: Celebrating Easter with Martha Stewart and Friends Chelsea Clinton Announces Pregnancy Man Accuses 'X-Men' Director Bryan Singer of Sexually Abusing Him As a Teenager Lea Michele & Naya Rivera Feuding? Man hit with $525 federal fine after he doesn't pay for soda refill Jabari Parker declares for the NBA draft Singing Nun Belts Out Cyndi Lauper New West, Texas Explosion Video Swim Daily, Throwback Thursday Don't Be A Tattletale: Bad Bullying Tips For Students The trillest thoughts on marijuana "RHOA" Star Charged With Battery Grizzly Bears Get Snowy Birthday Party Weatherman draws forecast when another technical glitch strikes WGN Elizabeth Olsen's Sexy Shoot Bay Area Teen Gets Prom Date With Help From 'Breaking Bad' Star Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Behind The Tanlines Jersey Strong Part 1 WATCH: Women Fight To Marry Prince Harry! Jenny McCarthy Engaged to "New Kid"