Juvenile justice reform in Georgia is dead, at least for 2012. Lingering questions about the state’s cost for prosecutors and public defenders in juvenile courts scuttled the bill Monday at the 11th hour.
Attorney General Thurbert Baker has been asked to opine on whether political campaigns may make unlimited financial contributions to other campaigns. A decision by the State Ethics Commission last week raised the possibility that unopposed candidates with fat campaign accounts could give unlimited amounts to candidates in close races, creating a legal path to circumvent contribution limits.
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.
Twice a year, members of the Cobb County ethics board meet to deal with housekeeping matters. Then they go home. For a time last year, DeKalb’s ethics board couldn’t even muster a quorum. And in Fulton, a state legislator contends the ethics board cannot impose fines or sanctions because its members were appointed improperly. Bottom line: Local ethics boards get no respect.
After getting the silent treatment for nearly a year, the Fulton County Ethics Board wants Commissioner Lynne Riley to answer charges that she’s not acting in the best interest of county citizens.
UPDATE: The ethics bill was recommitted just now (12:20 p.m. Wednesday) to the Rules Committee. Not sure what’s up with that. We’ll find out when the committee meets at 1:30 p.m.
The House Rules Committee today pushed ahead with Speaker David Ralston’s ethics bill after rejecting Democrats’ drive for a $50 cap on gifts from lobbyists. The panel scheduled the bill, tweaked just before the meeting, for debate by the full House on Wednesday. Procedurally, the measure was passed in such a way that it cannot be amended on the House floor.
If House Speaker David Ralston’s ethics bill passes as written, Sen. Don Balfour and friends will have 562,000 reasons to thank him. Balfour, who’s said he won’t seek re-election, started 2010 with that many greenbacks in his campaign account. Georgia politicians such as Balfour would have been severely restricted in spending leftover campaign cash under a bill with broad bipartisan support. Now that proposal is all but dead, swept aside by Ralston’s substitute ethics bill.
Eleven state legislators have filed their 2008 financial disclosures since we pointed out Monday that they had missed the July 1 deadline. Good job, guys. That’s 11 down and 26 to go. The latest filers include state Sen. Ralph Hudgens (right), now a candidate for Georgia insurance commissioner.