The state Republican and Democratic parties are including a number of nonbinding questions on their ballots in the July 31 election. A poll on ending unlimited gifts from lobbyists is the only question that will appear on both.
All three candidates for the state Senate District 52 seat said they support the cap. The district covers all of Floyd and parts of Chattooga, Bartow and Gordon counties.
Chuck Hufstetler, Hayden Collins and David Doss are all Republicans, so the election will be decided in the primary.
Doss, a former State Transportation Board member, prom-
ised the Rome Tea Party in January that he would introduce a cap and, pass or fail, abide by it. He also was one of the first to sign the Georgia Alliance for Ethics Reform pledge.
The coalition of groups — including Common Cause Georgia and the Georgia Tea Party Patriots — is asking each candidate to pledge to co-sponsor a bill making it illegal for a lobbyist to give a gift valued over $100 to a public officer.
“Trust is a vital link between citizens and those elected to serve,” Doss said. “We have to restore confidence in our elected officials. This is a good start.”
Hufstetler, a former Floyd County commissioner, signed the pledge last week after he qualified to run for office. He noted that the county commission has a $100 cap but he never accepted any gifts when he was on the board.
“I will live by it whether it passes or not,” Hufstetler said. “We definitely need that in Georgia.”
Collins, a military resource efficiency manager, said he signed a similar Tea Party pledge but has not yet returned the Alliance’s form. He said lawmakers can get useful information from some lobbyists, but he supports a $100 cap.
“Let’s pass this,” he said. “It may be that it will balance things — so that all could have equal influence, not just the Fortune 500 crowd.”
Neither of the candidates for state House District 12 have signed the pledge, but the incumbent said she “probably will” and her challenger said “it misses the point.”
Former Floyd County Commissioner Eddie Lumsden, a Republican, is seeking to unseat state Rep. Barbara Massey Reece, D‑Menlo.
“I haven’t had a chance to sign it yet, but I’m certainly in agreement,” Reece said. “And, as ethics reform, I don’t think it goes far enough.”
Lumsden said he would back legislation if a majority of voters in the primary support the ballot question. But he said voters already can check financial disclosure reports, and replace lawmakers who don’t put their interests first.
“You can not legislate ethical behavior,” Lumsden said.
State Reps. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome, and Christian Coomer, R-Cartersville, are unopposed for re-election for District 13 and 14, respectively.
Neither has signed the pledge. Both said they haven’t seen it yet.
“I supported ethics reform legislation last session and I continue to support strong ethics legislation,” Coomer said.
Dempsey said she’ll wait to see the results of the primary poll and how the proposed law is written.
“It will depend on the details,” she said. “It doesn’t mean I’m opposed to it. I’d just rather deal in realities.”
Other ballot questions
The other nonbinding questions voters will see will depend on if they ask for a Republican or Democrat ballot.
“We have open primaries in Georgia, so you can pick either one this time,” Floyd County Elections Supervisor Evon Billups said. “For the November general election, all the candidates will be on all the ballots.”
There’s also a nonpartisan ballot option, which will have only the judge races and the regional transportation sales tax vote.
The Democratic Party of Georgia wants voters’ thoughts on three additional issues: a Constitutional amendment on charter schools, an income tax credit for home energy costs and a sales tax reduction on products made in Georgia.
The Republican Party of Georgia is asking five questions. In addition to the lobbyist cap, they’re polling on casino gambling, gun permits for active duty military under the age of 21, voter registration by political party and a right-to-life Constitutional amendment.
The two political parties are including several policy questions on their July 31 ballots. The questions are non-binding.
1. Should the Georgia Constitution be amended to allow the state to override locally-elected school boards’ decisions when it comes to the creation of charter schools in your county or city?
2. Do you support ending the current practice permitting unlimited gifts from lobbyists to state legislators?
3. Should Georgia adopt an income tax credit for home energy costs to support the economic security of our families?
4. Should Georgia reduce sales taxes on Made in Georgia products so as to support the growth of small businesses in our state?
1. Should Georgia have casino gambling with funds going to education?
2. Do you support ending the current practice of unlimited gifts from lobbyists to state legislators by imposing a $100 cap on such gifts?
3. Should active duty military personnel who are under the age of 21 be allowed to obtain a Georgia weapons license?
4. Should Citizens who wish to vote in a primary election be required to register by their political party affiliation at least thirty (30) days prior to such primary election?
5. Should the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to provide that the paramount right to life is vested in each innocent human being from his or her earliest biological beginning without regard to age, race, sex, health, function, or condition of dependency?
Click here for a link to the Georgia Alliance for Ethics Reform
Click here for a link to the financial disclosure reports search page