Gov. Deal Highlights Ethics, Juvenile Justice in Legislative Overview
Speaking before the Atlanta Press Club in downtown Atlanta, Governor Nathan Deal discussed some of the major accomplishments of the past legislative session, including a bill aimed at reducing the influence of special interests at the Capitol.
Deal admitted the ethics bill is flawed, but said it represents progress.
“Even though that [the ethics bill] does not do everything that everybody wants, I think it is a significant step in the right direction.”
The measure imposes a $75 cap on lobbyist gifts, the first limit on spending in the state’s history. In addition, all citizens compensated more than $250 to advocate at the Capitol will have to register as lobbyists.
Some have criticized the bill for containing significant loopholes, such as still allowing lobbyists to spend unlimited amounts for “educational” trips.
Gov. Deal said he wouldn’t be surprised if lawmakers revisited the issue next legislative session.
“I do believe that there will be at least a good debate about whether or not some of the provisions should be tweaked, but I will not attempt to dictate to the legislative body because the rules will apply to them – [they] won’t apply to me.”
During the speech, Deal also highlighted the importance of passing juvenile justice reform.
“What we were doing was not the right thing. It did not keep us safe. And it did not, certainly, save taxpayer’s money.”
The reform package gives judges more flexibility when sentencing youth offenders and puts more emphasis on community-based programs, instead of incarceration.