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House panel backs relaxed lobbyist rules, trims fee to $25



Feb. 7, 2013In response to activists’ complaints about possible infringement of free speech, a House panel voted today to relax proposed registration requirements for lobbyists and to reduce their annual fee from $300 to $25.

The vote on Speaker David Ralston’s ethics proposal would allow volunteers representing an organization to visit the Capitol for up to five “free” days during each annual legislative session to advocate for or against a bill. Citizens expressing personal views, rather than on behalf of a group, also could lobby lawmakers without having to register.

For lobbyists who would still be required to register, the state’s two-year-old fee would be trimmed to 25 bucks. The lower fee, were it in effect this year for the 1,069 currently registered lobbyists, would have cost the state treasury about $294,000.



The House Rules subcommittee, at a hearing last week, had discussed whether to establish different fees for different types of lobbyists. But Rep. Rich Golick, the subcommittee’s chairman, noted that a federal court found a similar plan unconstitutional in 1995.

“That gets into the potentially dangerous realm of equal protection,” Golick noted. The amended bill, he said, would set the fee “level, even and low.”

Originally, the bill authored by House Speaker David Ralston would have expanded the definition of lobbyist to include virtually anyone lobbying legislators or other public officials. Registrants would have to pay a $300 annual fee and file reports on their expenditures at least once a month.

Witnesses told the subcommittee last week that the expense — and the possibility of fines for violating filing requirements — would have a chilling effect on citizens’ right to redress their grievances.

Golick said the full Rules Committee will likely consider the amended bill next week.





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3 Responses to “House panel backs relaxed lobbyist rules, trims fee to $25”

  1. lynn everitt says:

    Does anyone know if the new movie studios put in south atlanta on roads to no where with a school with no kids (reported in todays AJC) has ties to anyone with DOT ex- leadership? Those tax incentives that the movies recieve are made to match this real estate deal all paid for by ga tax payers.
    Who are the land owners or those who profited off the new real estate deals?
    Just wondering since the AJC report seems to bring up those questions.

  2. lynn everitt says:

    One way to pay off officals…………………lets say a developer wants a fix to help relieve him of fixing infastructure problem, like sewar system.
    If he says he wants to buy a county commissioners property and places a real estate contract with a contigency fee of $$$$$ but then backs out so the commissioner gets to keep the money, is this considered a illegal act?
    How often do you think this happens?

  3. Dave Bearse says:

    Here’s an easy fix to remedy lost revenue due to the reduction to a $25 lobbyist registration fee that respects the spirit of a fee placing costs on those that are responsible for costs. Charge a combination fee and tax based on reported gifts to legislators. Say $1 for each reported gift to help cover the expense of the transparency system, and 21% on the value of the gifts. Legislators after all don’t report the gifts as income and thus paty tax, and when the gifts are meals have pocketed the per diem. Why 21%? Legislators are typically in the 21% or higher marignal tax bracket (15% up to $70k federal plus 6% state) .