Governor Perdue Praises Success of Historic Legislative Session
|Thursday, March 31, 2005||
Contact: Office of Communications 404-651-7774
Legislature Approves 19 of 20 Proposals Introduced by the Governor, Including Ethics Reform
ATLANTA – Governor Sonny Perdue today welcomed passage of nineteen of his twenty legislative agenda items in his address to the State House and Senate prior to the end of the 2005 legislative session, including the expected approval of ethics reform.
“Tonight we conclude one of the most historic and productive sessions of the Georgia General Assembly. When we last gathered here together, we charted a new course for Georgia – less government, more personal responsibility, and making education our top priority. We made a promise to listen to the people and make state government a partner for the citizens of Georgia, not an obstacle to their dreams. Tonight, I believe this legislature can proudly say – we promised, and we delivered,” said Governor Sonny Perdue.
The General Assembly concluded its work by passing a strong ethics reform package in the final hours of the 2005 legislative session. Governor Perdue advocated for these reforms during the last two legislative sessions and during his campaign for Governor in 2002.
“Finally, you are about to do something I've asked the legislature for every year since taking office and I promised the people of Georgia we would do. You're going to make history tonight by passing the strongest ethics reform package Georgia has ever seen,” said Governor Perdue. The conference committee report passed the Senate 51-0 and the House 160-1.
In addition to ethics reform, the highlights of Governor Perdue's legislative agenda passed by the legislature include:
- The Governor's education package – the Georgia Virtual High School, Master Teacher legislation, extending local flexibility, and a tax credit for teachers (signed by Governor Perdue on March 28, 2005);
- Legislation that will help create good jobs for Georgians by promoting Georgia Tourism, supporting small business growth, and help Georgia companies expand their operations in our state;
- The most far-reaching conservation effort in state history, the Georgia Land Conservation Act, and;
- Criminal justice reform that will restore balance in criminal prosecutions and strengthen the rights of victims;
- Protection of Georgia consumers and their privacy with the Slam Spam Email Act and the Wireless Privacy Act.
The legislature also passed civil justice reforms that will rein in junk lawsuits and improve access to healthcare for all Georgians, particularly women. Governor Perdue signed this legislation on February 16, 2005.
“As you return home to your families, each of you should be proud of what you have accomplished for Georgia during the 39 days of the 2005 General Assembly. Georgia will be safer, healthier, more educated and more filled with opportunity for our citizens thanks to your work. That's the true spirit of the New Georgia,” said Governor Perdue.
The final version of the ethics reform package included the following provisions:
- Includes increased penalties for violations of the Ethics in Government Act.
- Individuals who lobby for state contracts and changes in state rules and regulations will be required to register as lobbyists and file lobbyist disclosure reports.
- The bill includes a revolving door provision that will prohibit legislators, state elected officials, constitutional officers, agency heads and the executive directors of boards, commissions and authorities from lobbying for one year after leaving office.
- Lobbyists will not be eligible for executive appointment to any board, commission or authority that regulates the activities of the business that the lobbyist represented for one year after lobbying.
- Public officers will be prohibited from advocating for the advancement, employment, appointment, or promotion of a family member to a state job in the executive branch.
- The bill specifies allowable campaign expenditures, prohibiting personal use of such funds.
- Legislators will be prohibited from seeking or accepting campaign contributions or pledges of contributions during the legislative session.
- Significantly increases and expands financial disclosure requirements for public officials and lobbyists.
- Requires lobbyists to disclose individuals who pay the lobbyist more than $10,000 a year.
- The Ethics Commission will publish overall lobbyist spending by category and will post a list on its website including the name of each filer who has failed to file a required campaign contribution disclosure report, financial disclosure report or lobbyist disclosure report.
- Individuals who have made campaign contributions to the Governor in the 30 day period prior to the vacancy of a judicial position or after the vacancy occurred will not be eligible for judicial appointment unless they have requested and received a refund.
- The bill contains a millionaire's clause – candidates will not be able to repay personal loans over $250,000 after the date of the election.
- Creates a joint legislative ethics committee that will assist the general assembly in establishing rules and regulations relating to conflicts between the private interests of the member of the legislative branch and the duties of the member. Ordinary citizens will be able to file complaints alleging prohibited conflicts of interest with this committee and the committee will investigate and recommend appropriate punishment of legislators and legislative staff.
- Finally, the Senate tonight passed a separate bill (HB 665) providing whistleblower protection for state employees.