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‘Incumbent-protection’ plan dies with 2015 ethics bill

April 3, 2015 --

April 3, 2015 — It was a simple little bill, meant to offer local politicians relief from a dysfunctional state ethics commission. In the end, though, lawmakers added enough baggage, stripped it out, then restored it that the bill died Thursday in the Georgia Senate.

So which is the more dysfunctional arm of state government?

The Legislature’s inaction underscores the dangers inherent in its reliance on last-minute backroom deals. Thousands of political candidates will remain in limbo over payment of more than $1.5 million in late filing fees, and the ethics commission — given the likelihood that lawmakers will revisit the issue in 2016 — has no incentive to press for collection.

The bill’s demise also spells the end, at least for now, of two controversial add-ons: Letting House and Senate party caucuses spend unlimited amounts to protect incumbents, and making outside agitators like Grover Norquist register and report their spending.

Balfour expense records under wraps until prosecution’s done

Balfour expense records under wraps until prosecution's done
October 2, 2013 --

Oct. 2, 2013 — All expense records for state Sen. Don Balfour will be withheld from public view until a related criminal prosecution has concluded, Legislative Counsel Wayne Allen said today.

Common Cause: Most top candidates back limits on lobbyist gifts

July 13, 2010 --

Most major candidates for governor back a limit on lobbyists’ gifts to legislators and on inter-campaign cash transfers, a new survey shows. Both measures drew support from leading candidates except for Thurbert Baker and John Oxendine, who have not yet responded to the survey. “It looks like from this list here … that the new governor will be somebody who stands behind these reforms,” Common Cause director Bill Bozarth said.

Burkhalter tops Richardson in campaign fund-raising

Burkhalter tops Richardson in campaign fund-raising
July 8, 2009 --

Rep. Mark Burkhalter, not House Speaker Glenn Richardson, appears to be the Georgia Legislature’s top campaign fund-raiser for 2009. The Johns Creek Republican, who serves as speaker pro tem, collected $94,250 in campaign funds for the first six months of 2009. Richardson reported raising $88,150 in the same period.

BeltLine funding bill would circumvent new school board vote

March 28, 2009 --

Legislation assigning $850 million in Atlanta school taxes to the city’s BeltLine project without a vote passed the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday. New language inserted in the bill (reproduced below) means the Atlanta Board of Education would not have to reauthorize funds to a Tax Allocation District for the BeltLine. The board’s 2005 vote […]