Call to keep H.B. 142 in committee!
Cheaper, but Still Unconstitutional
Radio Commentary, 90.7, 91.7 New Life FM, March 15, 2013 – By Sue Ella Deadwyler
Good morning, Jim. What started out to be a bill limiting gifts from lobbyists to legislators has become a limit to the constitutional rights of folks the bill calls “any natural person.” On January 30th House Speaker Ralston and five other House leaders introduced H.B. 142 requiring all “natural persons” to register and buy a lobbyist badge or they could discuss issues ONLY with their own elected officials and even that was limited to no more than five days per year! Also, those required to register must wear their lobbyist badge to meet at the capitol, legislative office building or other government building. Ironically, this bill prohibits taxpayers from meeting in buildings that are built, supported and maintained by their taxes.
And there’s more. A registered person who lobbies for or against a bill, an ordinance or resolution or tries to influence a legislator or House or Senate committee or the governor or any other elected official in the state, must file disclosure reports of expenditures for printed material, postage or motor fuel used for political purposes and report the name of the person or entity they lobby. Obviously, this is a big-time invasion of privacy, that, also, puts unconstitutional restraints on a natural person’s freedoms of speech and association.
While H.B. 142 reduces the registration fee from $300 to $25, it charges fines for filing late reports. Remember, we’re talking about natural persons that are not paid to lobby, do not have expense accounts to shower legislators with gifts or treat them to breakfast, lunch or dinner. If that natural person, registers so he can talk politics only five days a year to officials he can’t vote for, and is late turning in an expense report every two weeks during the session, he could be fined $275 immediately; another $1,000 if he’s seven days late; and $10,000 on the 21st late day. If the lobbying targets municipalities or school districts, expenditure reports must be sent to them, as well.
H.B. 142 passed the House 164-4 on February 25th and is in the Senate Rules Committee. Please call Senator Mullis at 404 656-0057* and ask him to stop H.B. 142. It’s an invasion of privacy and an unconstitutional restriction on our freedoms of speech and association. For Georgia Insight I’m Sue Ella Deadwyler, your Capitol correspondent.