New ethics bills signed by Deal

ATLANTA -- State Sen. Rick Jeffares, R-Locust Grove, Tuesday commended Gov. Nathan Deal for signing House Bill 142 and House Bill 143 into law. These bills are part of an ethics reform package that limits lobbyist gifts and changes the process for reporting campaign contributions in Georgia. Both bills were passed by the Georgia General Assembly during the last few days of the 2013 legislative session.

"I would like to commend Gov. Nathan Deal and members of the Legislature for their leadership in strengthening Georgia's ethics laws," said Jeffares. "Ethics reform has long been a priority of mine and I am pleased the General Assembly worked together to adopt an ethics plan that produces a more open and transparent state government."

HB 142 caps lobbyist expenditures at $75 and bans gifts such as golf outings, concert tickets and international travel. In addition, any individual who receives more than $250 in compensation or reimbursement for promoting the passage or opposition of legislation must register with the state as a lobbyist.

HB 143 revises the required process for completing campaign disclosure reports by requiring candidates for county or municipal offices to file reports with the local county election superintendent or municipal clerk rather than with the state Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission. In addition, candidates for local office may also file a written notice stating the candidate or campaign committee does not intend to accept campaign contributions or make expenditures greater than $2,500.

This legislation will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2014.

Jeffares serves as chairman of the Ethics Committee. He represents the 17th Senate District, which includes portions of Henry, Rockdale and Newton counties.