Ethics bill survives cross-over day - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Ethics bill survives cross-over day

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By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  Today's the last day a bill can pass one chamber and still have enough time left to be approved by the other.

Much of the focus this year has been on the state's looming budget crisis, but lawmakers have priorities of their own. One bill that did make it across the hall before today is ethics reform. State lawmakers hope to crack down on inappropriate relationships between lobbyists and lawmakers and invoke stiffer penalties for public officials who take bribes.

The ethics reform packaged, passed by the House Ethics Committee would also require lobbyists to file more frequent reports on how they spend money on legislators. One missing provision is a cap on gifts from lobbyists.

Attorney Tommy Coleman, the former executive director of the state democratic party, says that could be a problem.

"The whole idea for lobbyists is access and it is only human nature that if somebody providing you with a large contribution and they call you on the phone, you're gong to pick it up and listen to them." said Coleman.

Watchdog groups say the bill isn't strong enough, and they'll work with legislators to try to strengthen it as it moves forward.

 

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