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Woodstock's Michael Caldwell Opposes State House Ethics Bill

The newly elected state representative was one of four lawmakers who voted against House Bill 142, which overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives on Monday.

Woodstock's Michael Caldwell Opposes State House Ethics Bill

Woodstock's freshman state representative was one of four legislators who voted against an ethics bill that passed overwhelmingly in the Georgia House of Representatives.

Michael Caldwell (R-Woodstock), who represents Georgia House District 20, was one of four lawmakers who voted against House Bill 142, which ban lobbyists gifts from individual state lawmakers.

Caldwell was joined by another Cherokee County freshman Rep. Scot Turner (R-Holly Springs), in his opposition to the bill.

South Georgia Rep. Delvis William Dutton (R-Glenvville) and Rep. Charles Gregory (R-Kennesaw) also voted against he measure.

The legislation, which now goes to the Georgia Senate, still allows lobbyists to pay for the dinners or gifts of committees, caucuses and other organized groups. It also includes exemptions for travel funded by lobbyists.

However, it bans lobbyists for picking up the tab for events such as golfing, tickets to sporting events and private dinners. Also, the bill mandates any individual, paid or unpaid as lobbyists, to pay for an indentification badge. 

Those who are unpaid and lobby at the state capitol for no more than five days do not have to register. 

Tell us: what do you think of Caldwell's opposition to House Bill 142? 

Caldwell noted that while the bill had the best of intentions, "I believe that forcing unpaid citizens who are not making expenditures on legislators is a violation of their constitutional right to petition their governing officials, regardless of whether or not they are representing a group."

"As one of a very small list of legislators in our House of Representatives who has always refused lobbyist gifts and contributions I am an advocate of reforming the system, but not at the price of Georgians' constitutional rights," he added.

Turner stated the cornerstone of his public service asks two questions: is what is he doing ethical and if it's constitutional.

While House Bill 142 had "noble steps in the direction of ethics reform," he said he couldn't betray his promise to protect the rights guaranteed in the United States Constitution and the Georgia Constitution.

Voting in favor of H.B. 142, he added, would amount to "placing restrictions on volunteer citizen activists' ability to associate with a group and to exercise their right to petition their government."

"I will continue to make ethics reform a fundamental goal of my work at the state capitol," he added. "I will also continue to make our constitutional rights the highest virtues worth protecting.

Turner added he will continue to be a transparent lawmaker and vow to never "accept a penny from a lobbyist."

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