State Rep. Scott Holcomb (District 81) has shown his support for ending all lobbyist gifts to state legislators, not just limiting them to a certain dollar amount, and supports Speaker David Ralston's efforts to make this happen.
Ralston has said he will begin a study group that looks at how other states ban lobbyists gifts and compare their practices. Holcomb wants this group to start meeting as soon as possible so that the legislators can work on gift bans as soon as the next legislative session begins.
"Legislation should be drafted soon so the General Assembly can pass and the Governor can sign the new law quickly. The solution is really quite simple so it should not take long to study, draft, and implement the changes. To that end, the new law should go into effect on the day it is signed by Governor Deal," Holcomb said in a press release.
On the July 31 ballot, both Republicans and Democrats voted on a question about banning lobbyist gifts. The questions are nonbinding, but parties use the responses to gauge what their constituents want and begin working towards that in the halls of power.
"The people of Georgia spoke very clearly on July 31st and Republicans and Democrats agreed on the need for reform. Every voter wants to know that legislators at the General Assembly are working on behalf of the people and not for the benefit of their own pocketbooks, frequent flyer accounts or stomachs. Ending all lobbyist gifts is an important step in restoring public trust in government," Holcomb said.
"I would like to see the law ban overseas trips, weekend getaways to fancy resorts, golf outings, sports tickets and even meals. As any economist will tell you, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Legislators receive per diem from Georgia’s taxpayers, so they should pay for their own meals from now on," he added.
However, he doesn't just want legislators covered by a gift ban. He said that the governor, statewide elected officials and state employees should be part of a gift ban too.
Holcomb also wants the gift ban study group to look at strengthening the enforcement powers of the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission.
"I will finish my first term in January and I was amazed at how things ‘work’ at the Capitol. Reform is long overdue and while these measures won’t fix all the problems at the Gold Dome, they should make for better policy making," he said.