Pricey Harrison

Friday, July 29, 2005

Lobbying Reform Bill Advances In House 7-29-05

Following last week's passage by a judiciary committee, the House Finance Committee has now approved lobbying reform legislation and referred it to the Appropriations Committee, which could sign off on the measure and send it to the full House for a vote as early as next week. The legislation, which is sponsored by House Majority Leader Joe Hackney, D-Orange, would require lobbyists to file monthly reports during the General Assembly session to disclose all expenses - above $10 - to legislators and high-ranking executive branch officials. The bill also proposes an important "cooling off" requirement that would prohibit legislators from immediately jumping into lobbying. The proposal is a substitute for the Senate's lobbying bill that capped spending on individual legislators at $100 annually, but included a broad exception for non-profits and only required biannual expense filings. Both bills 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. 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. (Many of you may have seen my op-ed in the News and Record on this subject last Saturday.)

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