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17 December 2009

House Democrats Vow To End Conflicts Of Interest Under The Gold Dome

Wednesday, two Democratic members of the Georgia General Assembly said the recent string of alleged ethics improprieties at the state Capitol is the reason why they're proposing legislation designed to stregthen Georgia's conflict of interest laws.

"The rank and file House members—from both parties—are embarrassed and want a stronger, more effective ethics law. The current bad stories on nightly news distract us from the real work for our constituents. There is a commitment to change, and we cannot lose this momentum," said state Representative Mary Margaret Oliver (D - Decatur).

Under the bill co-sponsored by Oliver and House Democratic Leader DuBose Porter (D - Dublin), the State Ethics Commission would have jurisdiction over conflicts of interest complaints instead of a committee of fellow lawmakers who are more prone to influence in the decision making process. Cases of abuse of power and sexual harassment are also established in the legislation and subject to investigation by the State Ethics Commission.

Says Porter:

"The only way you are going to eliminate conflicts of interest by representatives or senators at the capitol is to take the jurisdiction away from fellow lawmakers on a committee, who might have a vested interest in the complaint being dropped. The citizens of Georgia are watching the General Assembly to see if their government does the right thing in the wake of the recent scandal."