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Will We Finally Have Ethics Reform in Georgia?

The 40 days of the next General Assembly session will not be boring.

As we turn the calendar to 2013, we leave behind a year of successes and failures. It is easy to begin listing the failures, but I refuse to invest my time in being negative. Rather than dealing in the past, let us look forward into the future in our state of Georgia. On the second Monday of January, the Georgia General Assembly will open for the 40-day legislative session. There are some new people in places of leadership under the Gold Dome. It is felt by some people this will be positive in terms of moving legislation that is needed to help make our state stronger in ethics reform and care for those who need a voice.

Without making sweeping statements about former or even current leaders, I choose to deal with issues. When this session begins, I will start my 10th year advocating for moral right as I represent the positions of the leadership of the Georgia Baptist Convention at the Capitol. These years have been a learning process for me. There are some people who are certain that every person elected to serve in government service is corrupt. I have not found that to be true. There are people who believe the best way to bring about public policy change is to make the elected officials mad and make insulting remarks like they are “low down pond scum.” I do not work from that point of view.

I do believe we are long overdue for real enforceable ethics reform in our state. In each of the nine previous years, I have sought to work with others seeking ethics reform to bring about change that will affect and impact the way the people’s business is conducted through public policy at the Capitol in Atlanta. Midway through the last session of the General Assembly, I began to see what I believe is evidence that in this session we will see real ethics reform. I don’t want to become too optimistic, but I do believe we are closer to making changes in the behavior of lobbyists and legislators than we have seen in the nine previous years.

The issue of immigration and what we are going to do about finding those who are in our country illegally is still an issue that must somehow be addressed.

We are going to be dealing with social issues with the expansion of gambling in this next session it seems. There is a Senate study committee seeking information to be able to develop legislation to expand gambling with horse racing and pari-mutuel gambling. There is already a pre-filed bill in the House of Representatives calling for the expansion of gambling in Georgia. As in the past, I will oppose that legislation because I see this as another way of expanding the state being a predator on the citizens of our state.

From where I stand, in these 40 days of the General Assembly I will not be bored.

Follow Ray Newman on Twitter @RayNewmanSr

Jimmy Orr January 02, 2013 at 04:10 PM
Ray, I doubt it. Doubt ethics reform that is. Good example of this is Josh McKoon, an avid supporter of ethics reform, who is apparetly talking out of both sides of his mouth. I do not understand him wanting to put a $100. dollar cap on lobbyists spending while saying it is O.K. for lobbyist to contribute to his campaign coffer up to the maximum amount allowed. Lad sounds like he is crawfishing to me. What say you? P.S. If the Republican Party hopes to prevail in the 2014 mid-term elections they would best be served by giving John Boehner his walking papers as Speaker of the House when the 2013 session of Congress convenes.
Maria A. January 03, 2013 at 06:57 AM
I seriously doubt we will ever have real ethics reform. This has been a point of discussion for the past 20-30 years, and is fine for everyone except the person you are speaking with. The rules never quite apply to self. Although I am a Republican, I suppose I am not cut from the same cloth as many of the Republicans downtown at this point. I do not trust them, can't rely on what they say, and we have all seen their underhanded tactics with the recent T-Splost and charter school amendment. As long as they get their way, they will claim they are morally pure. They're lying. Isn't that the way to tell if a politician is telling the truth? I know some of them far too well. As for the Dems----well-----their lack of ethics have landed them pretty much in the minority----the same place the Republicans are headed as recompense for their stupidity. We, the people, do see through the corruption (both in Gwinnett and in the state house). Our opinions may not be appreciated, but we see. What's more, God sees. Thanks for all you try to do, and keep it up. We are supposed to "occupy until HE comes". The bad thing is--those downtown who claim to be such good, upstanding "Christians" are some of the ones involved in the scheming, deceiving, and manipulating to get their way.
James P. Wesberry, Jr. January 06, 2013 at 09:20 PM
Good article!

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