Lobbying Reform Bill Advances In House
A House judiciary committee agreed Tuesday to require lobbyists to file monthly reports during the General Assembly session to disclose all expenses to legislators and high-ranking executive branch officials above $10. The measure is a substitute for the Senate's lobbying bill that capped spending on individual legislators at $100 annually, but included a broad exception for civic and trade associations and retained biannual expense filings. Both measures would eliminate "goodwill lobbying," which allows lobbyists to spend unlimited amounts on legislators for meals and entertainment and not report it to state regulators if specific legislation is not discussed. The bill also requires a "cooling off" period of one year before legislators can become lobbyists. A commission led by Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and composed of lobbyists, legislators, and special interest advocates recommended changes to the lobbying rules last year, after concluding that we had some of the weakest lobbying rules in the country.