One of the final bills to pass this year’s legislative session was ethics reform. The bill includes caps of $75 on the amount lobbyists can spend on state and locally elected officials and requires paid lobbyists and those who are reimbursed more than $250 to register.
Speaker David Ralston, who sponsored the bill, spoke from the floor of the House urging his fellow representatives to pass it.
“I think that we can leave here tonight, hold our heads high, and know we did the people’s work and kept faith with the people of Georgia,” he says.
The bill passed both chambers unanimously and now goes to Gov. Nathan Deal who says he’s pleased with the end result.
Lawmakers also passed a bill to put video gaming machines under regulation of the Georgia lottery.
Rep. Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City), who sponsored the bill on behalf of Deal, says it would not only provide a percentage to the HOPE Scholarship but would help curb illegal gambling operations that offer cash payouts.
“These machines are legal under the state law,” he says. “The problem is we don’t have a regulatory system place to make sure they’re used legally and in compliance with state laws.”
The bill now allows local jurisdictions to limit the number of machines to six for any business and provides a mechanism for the machines to be banned in a community if they become a problem.
One issue lawmakers could not reach an agreement on was a bill to expand where guns can be legally carried in Georgia.
The sticking point was a provision to allow those who are at least 21-years-old and have a carry permit to take firearms onto college campuses except for in dorms and sporting events.
The Board or Regents and University System Chancellor Hank Huckaby lobbied hard against the provision and the Senate apparently listened.
Alice Johnson with Georgians for Gun Safety credits the Senate for standing firm.
“Nothing about this piece of legislation has anything that we could agree to, it was bad from the very beginning,” she tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish.
But Jerry Henry with Georgia Carry says it’s the college students that have to continue to go unprotected as well as Georgians who support Second Amendment rights that lost out. But he vows the fight isn’t over and he’ll begin lobbying for next year’s session in coming weeks.
“We didn’t get beat, we just ran out of time,” he says.