Senate lawmakers recommend lobbyist gift limits - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

Senate lawmakers recommend lobbyist gift limits

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ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA) -

The sky is the limit for lobbyists when it comes to how much a lobbyist can give a Georgia lawmaker.

William Perry, executive director of the watchdog group Common Cause, said lavish gifts can buy power the average voter could never afford.

"Golf trips, $17,000 trips to Europe, Super Bowl tickets," Perry said.

Some senate lawmakers want to end such largesse.

The Senate Study Committee on Ethics Reform said it would recommend its own house adopt a rule to cap gifts at $100.

"All the things that are big tickets items to buy influence will be eliminated, at least in the Senate," Perry said.

State Sen. Steve Henson, (D-Tucker), and Sen. Josh McKoon, (R-Columbus), last year introduced separate bills to cap lobbyists' gifts. Both measures died without getting so much as a hearing.

When asked if the Senate would adopt the proposal this year, Henson responded "I think a lot of people looked at the issue and realized it's not going away."

Voters made sure of that during the summer elections.

"Over 1.2 million of them voted in July to say they wanted to end the practice of continued giving," McKoon said.

Both lawmakers said they believed the gift cap would reduce the undue influence of lobbyists on Georgia politics.

CBS Atlanta News asked McKoon if the measure would have a chance a passing this session after dying last year.

"I'm very optimistic the Senate is going to take action to limit gifts in the State Senate."

The Senate is expected to adopt the cap on the first day of the legislative session on Monday.

The gift cap would be binding only in the Senate.

The House side would have to approve its own measure.

So far, House lawmakers have been very quiet about whether they would do that.

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