Galloway’s Q&A with Speaker David Ralston

From Jim Galloway’s Political Insider:

Q: So what’s your verdict on the 2012 campaigns?

A: I think the November elections were a mixed bag. Nationally, as Republicans, we were disappointed. We were obviously disappointed in the presidential race. We frankly dropped the ball in the nominating process in a couple of states. And as a result we’re going to be shut out of majority status in the U.S. Senate.

On the other hand, I was very pleased in Georgia. We’re up to 119 (GOP House members). We lost no Republican incumbents in November. We defeated two Democratic incumbents. We won some open seats.

Q: The GOP state primary ballot in July included a question on a “personhood amendment” — a measure to give full human rights to embryos. Republican voters approved it by an almost 2-to-1 margin. Will the Legislature take it up?

A: There’s not been one introduced. I have not read it. I’m not sure that one will be. We passed a very strong pro-life measure last session.

Q: In response to demands for a $100 cap on gifts from lobbyists to state lawmakers, you’ve called for a ban on all gifts. How’s that coming?

A: I’ve asked (House Majority Leader) Larry (O’Neal) to chair a sort of informal working group. It’s a bipartisan group of members of the House that have been here a while. What I’ve simply asked them to do is look at what other states have done. I’ve always said the $100 cap was a gimmick. I still believe that. …

… I want us to have a bill ready early in the session and pass it out of the House, and then get back to work on things like the budget and Medicaid and health care.

Q: Will the ethics legislation tackle any other areas?

A: I think there are some gaps in who is required to register as lobbyists. I think we need to close those gaps. I want the end result to be something that’s clear and understandable, not only to members of the General Assembly, but to the lobbying community and the public.

We’ve got a little, silly provision in the law now that says if you devote more than 10 percent of your time (at the state Capitol), then you have to register. If you’re here less (often), you don’t. Frankly, I think if you’re here on a regular basis advocating for an interest group, you need to go pay the fee and get a badge so people know who you are.

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