Last Friday, David Ralston, the Georgia House Speaker, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) that he would propose a complete ban on gifts from lobbyists to legislators. If such a ban were adopted, it would mark a dramatic departure from current Georgia law, which does not impose any limit on gifts to state legislators. (Georgia law does require full disclosure by lobbyists of all expenditures—including gifts—spent lobbying Georgia legislators. And bribery, of course, is prohibited.)
According to the AJC, support for a ban marks a reversal. Speaker Ralston and other House leaders had previously opposed any change to the law, including a proposal, supported by groups across the ideological spectrum and the Georgia Senate leadership, for a $100 cap on gifts by lobbyists. In the past, Ralston had taken the position that any change would be “gimmick[y]” and ultimately ineffective. But, Ralston said, the people “spoke on the issue in the primary,” and he is “committed from the House side to making sure we have real, serious ethics reform.”
It remains to be seen what the final bill looks like and how the votes line up, but Friday’s news makes it significantly more likely that important changes to Georgia’s gift rules are in the future.