Valdosta Daily Times

Top News

May 7, 2013

Deal signs law limiting lobbyist spending

ATLANTA — Lobbyists cannot spend more than $75 at a time while seeking to influence Georgia officials under legislation signed into law Monday that still leaves some loopholes and unresolved questions.

The legislation signed by Gov. Nathan Deal, a Republican, takes effect Jan. 1 and sets the first state limits on how much money lobbyists can spend. Right now, lobbyists can spend as much as they want so long as they publicly disclose their expenditures.

“Our success as leaders of this state depends heavily on the public’s ability to trust us,” Deal said during a bill signing ceremony at the Statehouse. “And we cannot expect them to honor our laws or to elect us to do further good for this state unless we have put in place those measures whereby with certainty they know that we have their best interests in mind.”

Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate fought over how to write the rules during much of the General Assembly’s 40-day session. That political impasse prevented a vote on the state budget. To break the logjam, Deal threatened to call a special session unless legislators resolved the dispute. Lawmakers then approved the state budget and a compromise ethics package on the final day of the legislative session.

House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, described the bills as “historic measures” for putting the state’s first limits on lobbyist spending.

Still, there are big exceptions. Once the law takes effect, lobbyists can still spend more than $75 on food, beverages and registration to host group events where all members of the General Assembly or entire political or other caucuses are invited.

Once a year, lobbyists can invite members of legislative committees, which have significant sway over bills, out for meals. Lobbyists will be able to pay to send lawmakers and their staff on trips within the United States that are related to their official duties.

There are questions about how the rules will be enforced. The new law limits what lobbyists can spend, not what lawmakers can accept. As a result, some who supported tighter restrictions on lobbyist spending fear it will be legal for lobbyists to split large expenses. For example, two lobbyists could jointly buy a $150 football ticket for a lawmaker without breaking the rules.

Critics also worry a provision of the bill will allow attorneys to lobby without having to officially register as lobbyists and obey the new rules governing spending. The state’s ethics commission, which enforces the law, will likely be asked to rule on those issues next year.

“We are pleased that this first step was taken, and we will be back,” said Debbie Dooley, a co-founder of the Atlanta Tea Party, which pushed for tighter lobbying rules. “There are things that need to be done to adjust the legislation.”

Ralston said lawmakers need to see how the new laws work before considering changes to them.

1
Text Only
Top News
  • Obama_Stew.jpg Obama views mudslide scene

    Swooping over a terrain of great sadness and death, President Barack Obama took an aerial tour Tuesday of the place where more than three dozen people perished in a mudslide last month, then mourned privately with those who lost loved ones in the destruction.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wall Street_Stew.jpg Earnings and corporate deals lift U.S. stocks

    Corporate deals and some solid earnings reports propelled the stock market to its sixth straight gain Tuesday.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Economy College Gradu_Stew.jpg Job market for college grads better but still weak

    With college commencement ceremonies nearing, the government is offering a modest dose of good news for graduating seniors: The job market is brightening for new grads — a bit.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Supreme Court TV On t_Stew.jpg Internet TV case: Justices skeptical, concerned

    Grappling with fast-changing technology, Supreme Court justices debated Tuesday whether they can protect the copyrights of TV broadcasters to the shows they send out without strangling innovations in the use of the internet.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Today in History

    In 1791, the 15th president of the United States, James Buchanan, was born in Franklin County, Pa.

    April 23, 2014

  • Stowaway teen forces review of airport security

    A 15-year-old boy found his way onto an airport’s tarmac and climbed into a jetliner’s wheel well, then flew for five freezing hours to Hawaii — a misadventure that forced authorities to take a hard look at the security system that protects the nation’s airline fleet.

    April 22, 2014

  • South Korea Ship Sink_Rich copy.jpg Death count in ferry sinking tops 100

    One by one, coast guard officers carried the newly arrived bodies covered in white sheets from a boat to a tent on the dock of this island, the first step in identifying a sharply rising number of corpses from a South Korean ferry that sank nearly a week ago.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • AP520422034 copy.jpg Today in History for Tuesday, April 22, 2014

    Today is Tuesday, April 22, the 112th day of 2014. There are 253 days left in the year.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Commission to vote to purchase new computers

    Lowndes County commissioners discussed replacing outdated computers, a bid for an emergency bypass pump, an annexation request from the City of Hahira, a juvenile justice grant application, and an appointment to the dangerous dog board.

    April 22, 2014

  • KLVB receives Governor’s Circle Recognition Award

    Keep Lowndes/Valdosta Beautiful received the Governor’s Circle Award. These inaugural, statewide awards were presented by Gov. Nathan Deal at the State Capitol .

    April 22, 2014

Top News
Poll

Given the amount of rain recently, what's your favorite “rain” song?

Singing in the Rain
Purple Rain
Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
November Rain
Rainy Night in Georgia
Other
     View Results