Governor Perdue Introduces 2004 Honesty in Government Act
|Thursday, February 12, 2004||
Contact: Office of Communications 404-651-7774
ATLANTA, GA - Intent on seeing fundamental reform of Georgia 's ethics laws, Governor Sonny Perdue announced today the details of his 2004 Honesty in Government Act. The legislation was filed in the State Senate by the Governor's Floor Leaders with 40 co-signers. In addition to re-introducing his ethics package in the Senate, Governor Perdue is presenting his legislation to the House Judiciary Committee and is calling on the Chairman of that committee to hold a hearing and move the measure with all deliberate speed.
"Last year, the General Assembly failed to pass meaningful ethics reform after the legislation languished in the House. I am submitting this legislation again because these reforms are needed and expected by the citizens of this state," said Governor Sonny Perdue. "I will continue to push for ethics reform until it passes and I sign my signature on the dotted line."
Governor Perdue's ethics reform package will give the Ethics Commission more influence, authority, and visibility. The Commission will have full authority to handle substantive violations of both the Ethics and Government Act and conflicts of interest violations. The legislation will also change the jurisdiction for all filings to go directly to the Ethics Commission and move the Commission from Douglasville to downtown Atlanta in a very accessible and visible location.
Governor Perdue's reforms will also provide more time to correct typographical and other unintentional errors on ethics reports so that inadvertent violations can be corrected before they become unnecessary complaints to the Commission. Lastly, with many specific provisions, Governor Perdue's Ethics Reform Package closes many of the loopholes in the state's ethics laws.
The Governor's ethics legislation will close the following loopholes:
- New to this year's proposal is Lobbyist Fee Disclosure. For the first time in Georgia , lobbyists will have to disclose the fees they receive for their service and who the fees are from, just like lobbyists at the federal level have been required to do for years.
- Revolving Door. Public officers will be prohibited from lobbying for one year after they leave office.
- Public Employee Whistleblower Statute. State and local employees will be protected against retaliation for reporting a violation of or noncompliance with a law, rule or regulation.
- Nepotism. Elected or appointed State officials will be prohibited from advocating for or causing the advancement, appointment, or employment of a family member.
- Contributions to the Governor by Potential Judicial Nominees. A person may not be considered as a judicial appointment if that person made a contribution to the Governor within 30 days of the vacancy on the bench.
- Influencing the Board of Pardons and Paroles and Department of Corrections. Legislators and state elected or appointed officials will be prohibited from appearing before or communicating with these agencies seeking a decision on behalf of a person.
- Solicitation of Funds during the Legislative Session. Members of the General Assembly and public officers elected statewide will be prohibited from soliciting campaign funds or pledges for campaign contributions during the legislative session.
- Honoraria and Gifts. Public officials will be prohibited from receiving honoraria and will be prohibited from accepting any gift from people with business before state government valued at more than $50.
- Financial Disclosure. Loopholes in the current financial disclosure requirements will be closed and other provisions will be strengthened to require government officials to disclose their significant business interests and sources of outside income to guard against conflicts of interest.
- Conflicts of Interest. The Ethics Commission will have jurisdiction over all conflict of interest issues and stiffer sanctions will be available for violations. Governor Perdue has already increased funding for the Commission by 50%, and if his recommendations are followed this year, the Governor will have doubled the Commission's budget since taking office.
- Filing Reports. All campaign disclosure reports and finance reports that are currently filed with the Secretary of State's Office will be filed with the Ethics Commission; funding and the computer system currently in the Secretary of State's budget will be transferred to the Ethics Commission. Having all filings in one location will streamline the process and make it more efficient.
- Lobbyist Fee Disclosure. Lobbyist will have to disclose the fees they receive for their service and who the fees are from.