Senate passes income tax ethics bill

Legislators who do not file their income taxes would have their names released before the beginning of each Legislative session, under a bill that passed the Senate Thursday.
Senate Bill 17 seeks to address the problem of state legislators who habitually do not pay their taxes. The bill passed the Senate 54 to 0 Thursday.
“Elected officials should be held to the same standard as every other Georgian in filing and paying their taxes,” said Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle in a written statement.
Recently legislative leaders received a list from the state Department of Revenue of 19 legislators who have not paid their taxes. The names were redacted to protect their confidentiality.
Senate Bill 17 would change state law to allow the DOR to name any member of the Legislature who has not filed a Georgia personal income tax return for the most recent preceding calendar year.
Those names would be given to the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee, which could in turn, choose to release them to the public.
Sen. George Hooks (D-Americus) sits on the Joint Committee and said the names would probably be released.
The bill also requires the DOR to give written notice to each legislator on the list at least 20 days before the release of their name.
The committee could conduct an investigation into whether a member has committed misconduct and could refer the matter to the Senate or House ethics committees for action.
A previous bill would have changed Senate rules in order to deal with the problem. It generated a rancorous debate in the Senate last week, causing some to say it was a politically-motivated witch-hunt.
Senate Bill 17 had the full support of both parties Thursday.
“This has the force of state law,” Hooks said.
“This is a stronger, cleaner, fairer way of doing it,” he said.

4 comments Add your comment

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S Bailey

March 13th, 2009
1:46 am

It is criminal for a General Assembly Rep or Senator to be in arrears on his or her taxes. They should be held to a higher standard and should automatically be removed from office for these violations. There is just no excuse for anyone in public service to be a scofflaw of the very laws that he or she can control by the ballot.

Sean Frazier

March 13th, 2009
7:42 am

This is why Casey Cagle is the front runner in the Governors race. Cagle demonstrated tremendous leadership to bring this solution to the floor and bring the entire Senate together for unanimous agreement. He exhibited leadership and bipartisanship that you don’t often see at the Gold Dome or anywhere for that matter. How often do you see both the Senate Majority and Minority leaders praising a bill? Simply brilliant……..

[...] Senate passes ethics bill with compromise on income tax reports for lawmakers. [...]