By Beau Evans
Capitol Beat News Service
ATLANTA – Liars got a gut punch from Georgia state senators, who unanimously agreed Monday they are fed up with falsehoods in their chamber and in legislative committees.
Under a resolution by Senate Rules Committee Chairman Jeff Mullis, members of the public who testify at Georgia Senate meetings would be bound to tell only the truth or face a temporary ban.
Lobbyists, activists, experts, government officials and just generally concerned Georgia citizens often weigh in on bills and issues at hearings held by Senate committees.
These hearings are the most public way for people opposed or supportive of legislation to air their thoughts before lawmakers, who must give the green light before a bill can advance further in the Georgia General Assembly.
The resolution by Mullis, R-Chickamauga, would make it so that people testifying before the Senate are “most strongly requested” to tell the truth.
The resolution does not explicitly state lawmakers themselves also need to tell the truth.
Anyone caught fibbing would be cited for contempt and barred from giving testimony for the rest of an annual legislative session. Mullis’ resolution originally banned liars for life, but that severe punishment was stripped from the final version.
Mullis said Monday the point of his resolution is to make sure lawmakers have the most accurate information possible when voting on changes to Georgia law.
He said only factual untruths will be prohibited. Opinions of all stripes can still range freely.
“Don’t you think it’s important for us to have the truth when we’re trying to put good laws together so we have the right information?” Mullis said.
A handful of Democratic senators backed Mullis’ bill on the Senate floor in a show of bipartisan support for the truth-telling pledge.
“Hopefully, this will make a change in what people say to us and make sure it is truthful,” said Sen. Horacena Tate, D-Atlanta.
By Beau Evans