Deal Signs Bill Reversing Ruling about Lobbying; Registered Lobbyists Are Now Only Those Paid to Influence Legislation

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Byline: WALTER C. JONES

ATLANTA - Gov. Nathan Deal signed legislation into law Tuesday that removes the need for many people to register as lobbyists.

The governor signed House Bill 232 the day it landed on his desk, making it the fourth law of the current legislative session. Few bills have been passed by both the House and Senate and transmitted to Deal for his consideration, and he's acting fast.

Most governors take full advantage of the 40 days after the legislative session ends to sign or veto bills. Any bills not acted on in that period automatically become law.

Deal had earlier signed the mid-year budget adjustment and a bill addressing a pressing issue for a single city. Tuesday, he signed revisions to the HOPE Scholarship program and legislation for Maysville and Lowndes County in addition to the lobbyists bill.

HB 232 only passed the General Assembly Monday.

Deal agreed with legislators who said the law was needed to reverse decisions by the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission. The commission issued an advisory opinion March 7 that interprets the Ethics in Government Act to mean that everyone who is being paid at the moment they meet with a lawmaker about a bill are to be considered lobbyists and subject to registration and report filing every two weeks. They could be fined $10,000 for every report not filed.

"Current law, as written and as interpreted by the ... Commission, includes far too many people as a lobbyist," notes a statement released by Deal's office. …