Several state representatives pushed for legislation that would limit the amount of money lobbyists can spend on the lawmakers to $100 a day.
But House Speaker David Ralson, a Blue Ridge Republican, who opposed that proposal during this year's legislative session, now wants to forbid lobbyists from spending any money on legislators at all.
Marshall Guest, the speaker's media representative, sent 13WMAZ an email Wednesday outlining Ralston's proposal.
"Speaker Ralston plans to call on a working group of state House members to craft a bill that implements a prohibition on lobbyist spending on legislators, rather than to cap this type of activity at an arbitrary amount as some have proposed," Guest wrote.
"This group will also look at other ways to further strengthen the state's ethics laws. Speaker Ralston has previously said that if the state moves away from the current system, which requires all spending by lobbyists on legislators be disclosed, then the best would be a prohibition. This proposal continues the Speaker's record of taking steps to improve our state's ethics laws just as he did when he became Speaker in 2010," he wrote.
State Rep. Tommy Smith, an Alma Republican, was the prime sponsor of the bill that would have limited lobbyists spending to $100 a day. The bill didn't come up for a vote this session.
In a telephone conversation, Smith said he's aware of Ralston's proposal and supports it.
"That's what we wanted all along," Smith said. "But we felt it would hit a brick wall, so we went with the $100 per day to start. Our goal really is to do what the Speaker says he wants to do."
If the Ralston proposal becomes law, Smith said it would do more to make state government work better than anything that's been done in the last 50 years.
"Lobbyists use money as a tool to influence votes," Smith said.
Smith has been a state representative for 32 years. He didn't seek re-election this year. But he said he might seek a higher office, such as governor, in 2018.