Pricey Harrison

Friday, April 22, 2005

Lobbying Reform

The House is preparing to take up legislation recently passed by the Senate, which would tighten restrictions on how much lobbyists can spend on legislators and executive branch officials to influence government action. The bill seeks to restrict lobbyist spending to $100 a year per individual legislator or person lobbied within state government. The measure also would eliminate a reporting loophole in which lobbyists can spend unlimited amounts on legislators for meals and entertainment and not report it to state regulators as long as specific legislation isn't discussed. The bill also would bar legislators who resign their seats from returning to the General Assembly as lobbyists within the two-year session to which they were elected.

Two former governors, Democrat Jim Hunt and Republican Jim Martin, are pushing reforms of North Carolina's lobbying rules and have said that disclosure, not a ban on gifts to legislators, is the best way to discourage influence peddling.

Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand, D-Cumberland, sponsored the Senate bill. Reps. Joe Hackney, D-Orange, Deborah Ross, D-Wake, and Grier Martin, D-Wake introduced a similar bill, House Bill 6, in the House. These two bills, in addition to House Bill 1106 - which I co-sponsored, and would require lawmakers, Council of State members, and eleven state department heads to wait one year after leaving their positions before becoming lobbyists - are now before the House Judiciary I Committee.

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