Senator David Shafer on Ethics “Leadership by example”

A first step by Senator David Shafer (R-Duluth) as he prepares to take the reins as President Pro Tem of the Georgia Senate is garnering praise.

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

“Unlimited (lobbyist) giving is an untenable situation,” said Senate President Pro Tem-elect David Shafer, R-Duluth, the chamber’s highest-ranking member.

Lobbyists under current state law can make unlimited gifts to elected officials but must disclose all spending. Lobbyists spend about $1.6 million a year, mostly on food, trips and event tickets for lawmakers.

A draft proposal now before the Senate ethics study committee would outline the new ethics parameters, including defining what a gift is — a private dinner worth more than $100, for example — and is not.

Among exemptions are memberships or subscriptions related to public office, and registration costs and “reasonable” travel expenses to attend out-of-state junkets, as long as they are related to a senator’s official duties.

The move to curb lobbyists’ gifts won immediate praise from ethics watchdogs.

“That’s leadership by example,” said Kelli Persons with the League of Women Voters of Georgia. The league is one of several groups that have pushed especially hard over the past two years to strengthen ethics laws and regulations at the Capitol.

Chip Rogers leaving Georgia Senate?

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

State Sen. Chip Rogers is expected to announce today he is stepping down from office, multiple state, legislative and agency officials confirmed to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The decision comes only weeks after Rogers decided not to seek re-election as Senate Majority Leader — one of the most powerful positions in the chamber. He said then that he wanted to spend more time with his family.

Rogers, who won reelection last month representing parts of Cherokee and north Fulton counties, has been one of the Georgia Legislature’s most visible leaders, a conservative Republican who at times veered unintentionally into the spotlight because of his views.

Rogers is expected to address his decision to leave the Senate later today. His office over the weekend said it won’t comment on rumors of his departure.

Senator Unterman discusses Shafer’s election as President Pro Tem

From today’s Gwinnett Daily Post:

In case you missed the news last week, Gwinnett Sen. David Shafer was picked by the GOP to serve as the president pro tem of the Georgia Senate.

(Officially, the vote will take place when the session begins in January, but because the Republicans have such strong control of the chamber, the party gets the pick.)

Shafer, who represents Duluth, will become the 68th president pro tempore in the history of Georgia. The president pro tem chairs the Senate Administrative Affairs Committee, which is responsible for operations of the Senate, and is charged with speaking on behalf of the entire Senate, a press release said. He also assumes the duties of the lieutenant governor in his absence.

Renee Unterman, another powerful senator from the Gwinnett delegation, said she was honored to nominate and second Shafer for the position, during a meeting at Little Ocmulgee State Park. She had 19 proxies from the Reform Caucus to support her colleague.

“Our Reform Caucus is committed to uniting fellow senators with the lieutenant governor restoring order, transparency, and ethics to the Georgia State Senate,” she said of the group.

The appointment is a coup for the county, she said.

“Gwinnett’s prominence continues to rise with the state’s legislative leadership, as our delegation leads both in the Senate and the House,” she said. “Sen. Shafer is a shinning example of our talent in Gwinnett County.”

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