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Ethics reform moves forward
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The 2013 legislative session of the Georgia General Assembly continues to push forward toward the finish line with the completion of the 30th day of the session.

Reforming our ethics laws is one of our priorities for this session.  House Bills 142 and 143 would strengthen Georgia’s ethics laws by banning expenditures by lobbyists on individual members of the General Assembly and by making common-sense changes to the campaign contribution disclosure requirements.

Food and beverages may be provided to legislators only at group events where all members of the General Assembly, all members of the state House or Senate, all members of a standing committee or subcommittee of either body or a caucus of either body are invited.  HB 142 also restores power to the Georgia Government and Campaign Finance Commission by empowering it with rule-making authority.

An important part of this legislation was removing requirements for officials holding local offices to file campaign contribution reports with the state.  Many of these local officials have not been involved in a campaign where any material amount of money is spent; however, they have been subjected to tedious disclosure requirements. Even if a local official had no competition and had spent no money on a campaign, they were required to file up to five reports a year stating no contributions and no expenditures.

HB 143 provides that a candidate can file an affidavit declaring not to spend over $2,500 and will have no other reporting to make to the state.  Local officials will still have to meet local requirements.

House Bill 242, or the juvenile justice reform bill, would substantially revise and modernize provisions relating to Georgia’s juvenile proceedings and enact comprehensive juvenile justice reforms. HB 242 provides consistency with national standards for cases involving children who have been abused or neglected by the adults responsible for their well-being. Additionally, the bill would create a new approach for children who have committed acts that would not be against the law if they were adults, such as skipping school, running away from home, or violating curfew.

House Bill 244 would create uniformity in the way Georgia teachers are evaluated by establishing a single statewide educator evaluation system. This evaluation system has been piloted in 50 districts across the state.  Teachers, superintendents, principals, and advocates who participated in the pilot program all came together to publicly support this bill.

The evaluation system implemented by HB 244 would become effective no later than the 2014-15 school year, and would apply to teachers, assistant principals, and principals. Creating this evaluation system would ensure all public school teachers and school leaders in Georgia receive the feedback they need to grow and improve in their profession. These evaluations will be used to help educators receive the feedback they need to do the best job possible, the evaluation system would include measures to protect educators’ privacy.

Thank you for allowing me to serve as your state representative. I can be reached at (404) 656-5099 or at