House Communications - News
8/26 Three ethics bills among those becoming law August 28
Three House ethics reform bills are among those becoming law August 28, and the sponsor of a fourth bill said it will be an early priority in 2017.
The first piece of ethics legislation from the 2016 session to reach Governor Jay Nixon (D) and be signed was HB 1983 sponsored by Representative Shamed Dogan (R-Ballwin). It bars elected officials from hiring one another as paid political consultants.
“We’ve had people in leadership of the House and the Senate serving as paid political consultants to other members of those bodies, and if you wanted your legislation to move through you would ‘wink wink, nudge nudge,’ be encouraged to sign on with that person’s consulting firm, which was just wrong,” said Dogan. “I don’t think there’s anybody that’s going to defend that practice on the merits.”
HB 1979 bars statewide elected officials, members of the General Assembly, or appointees subject to Senate confirmation from registering as lobbyists until six months after the end of their terms.
It was sponsored by Representative Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia).
“When you get into public service I think you have to hold yourself to a little bit of a higher standard,” said Rowden. “I think that the argument that people shouldn’t be inhibited from being able to do what they want to do when they leave, there is relevance in that argument, but I do think that we obviously have the ability and the power to govern ourselves and to decide how high of a bar we are going to seek to try and live under.”
Another House bill becoming law August 28 limits how long campaign funds can be invested and how they can be used. It limits the use of campaign contributions to political campaigns. It also bars a person with a campaign account from working as a lobbyist until all the money in that fund has been refunded to donors, donated to charity, or contributed to a political party.
That legislation, HB 2203, was sponsored by Representative Jay Barnes (R-Jefferson City).
One ethics bill the House passed that didn’t clear the Senate would ban gifts from lobbyists to elected officials. House Speaker Todd Richardson (R-Poplar Bluff) said on the final day of the 2016 session that it would be the first legislation passed by the House in 2017.
It is sponsored by Representative Justin Alferman (R-Hermann).
“Legislators shouldn’t be receiving gifts in the first place so we’re trying to make sure that we alleviate some of the undue influence that lobbyists have on legislators in Jefferson City,” said Alferman.
Speaker Richardson said at the beginning of the 2016 session that ethics reforms would be a top priority and called for those to be offered in single-subject bills, rather than multi-subject bills that have failed to achieve passage in past years.
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