This blog is about to go silent for a few days, to rest up for the Aug. 21 runoffs.
But we’ll leave you with this tidbit: You know that House Republicans, especially Speaker David Ralston, have endured a great deal of criticism for their opposition to a $100 cap on gifts from lobbyists to state lawmakers.
Last week, 87 percent of GOP voters in the July 31 primary endorsed the cap, which Ralston has called a “gimmick.” To give the speaker his due, it is indeed a low bar. A lobbyist would be able to spend $100 on a lawmaker’s breakfast, and still be allowed to buy him a $100 lunch.
We’ve gotten reliable information – and not from a single source — that House Republican leaders are considering legislation next January that would ban all lobbyist spending on lawmakers altogether. Nothing. Zip. Nada. And that Ralston is among those who have expressed interest in this path.
The impact on the culture of the state Capitol would be tremendous.
Leaders of the state Senate have signed onto the petition pushed by Common Cause Georgia and tea party groups, endorsing the $100 cap.
If you’re looking for a tactical parallel, think of abortion. For years, the House was the recipient of Senate bill after Senate bill that pushed for tougher restrictions. It relied on the House to block them.
But last year, the House up and approved passed HB 954, a bill that shortened the period during which a woman could seek an abortion. It was the most aggressive measure passed in decades. The Senate became the chamber forced to moderate the bill, with a provision that exempted pregnancies in which the fetus was found to be non-viable.
We may be looking at yet another example of one-upmanship. Consider this a signal that if state senators are willing to push the issue of ethics, Ralston’s House is prepared to meet them.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider