Revisions to Georgia’s gift rules, which seemed a near certainty earlier in the year, have stalled as the legislative clock runs out this week. Georgia law currently imposes no limit on gifts to state legislators. In the 2012 primaries, Georgia voters overwhelming supported a non-binding ballot initiative calling for a $100 cap on gifts and House Speaker David Ralston subsequently proposed a complete ban on gifts from lobbyists to state legislators. The House passed Ralston’s ban by a vote of 164-4 on February 25, 2013. However, the Senate version of the bill, which passed unanimously on Friday, permits gifts of up to $100.
The 2013 legislative session is scheduled to end this Thursday. Unless a conference committee can bridge the gap between the House and Senate bills before the end of the session, the present system will remain in place. The Atlanta-Journal Constitution reports that the gift ban’s “vital signs are declining, but there’s still evidence of brain activity.” Despite the overwhelming bipartisan support of voters, the House, and the Senate, this week will show whether enacting new ethics rules is truly on the mind of Georgia state legislators.