Ga. House Speaker Wants Complete Ban on Lobbyist Gifts

Georgia’s House Speaker wants to go further than the state Senate when it comes to preventing unlimited lobbyist gifts. Earlier this week, Senators voted for a rule change that caps lobbyist gifts at $100 for a single item.

During the annual Eggs and Issues breakfast held at the Georgia World Congress Center, Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle expressed support for the lobbyist gift cap.

“It was very clear by the public that they wanted to see an end to unlimited gifts. This allows that happen. It happened on day one. The Senate is operating under it, my office is operating under it, and I think it is the proper balance.”

  But House Speaker David Ralston joked it doesn’t do enough to allow special interests from seeping into the political process.

“I tease my friend that was more a sun visor than a cap that they adopted the other day, but I mean that respectfully.”

Ralston says House lawmakers plan to propose a permanent change regarding lobbyist gifts in the near future. Ralston plans to introduce legislation that would include a complete ban on items given by lobbyists.

One of the largest criticisms of the new Senate rule is that there are a number of exceptions. For instance, the law allows lobbyists to give multiple gifts that are $100 or less. It also allows for lobbyists to pay for travel and a number of other expenses related to Senators’ official duties.

Critics say that means a three night trip taken by Senator Jeff Mullis to a Florida resort for a Georgia Industrial Loan Association convention and another trip taken to the Grove Park Inn in Asheville by Senator Jack Murphy for the Georgia Bankers Association would be covered. Several other senators plan to propose additional legislation to address ethics.