Gov. Nathan Deal signed an ethics overhaul into law Monday that imposes Georgia’s first-ever limitations on gifts to public officials, and he hailed the move as a watershed moment shoring up the public’s trust of its elected leaders.
The new rules place a $75 cap on dinners and many other gifts lobbyists typically lavish on public officials, but vague language and confusing exceptions have prompted unresolved questions about what the changes mean and how they will be enforced.
Those answers may not come into focus until well after the law takes effect in January 2014, when the state ethics commission will begin developing rules to guide lobbyists and public officials. Deal and House Speaker David Ralston both pleaded for patience and all but ruled out making more significant legislative changes next year.
“It’s important to give this legislation a chance to operate and see what its implications are,” Deal said, “and then if it’s not adequate, those same concerns that led to this legislation will perhaps find their way to be addressed later on.”