Lobby changes raises questions

Capitol insiders have been discussing the latest ideas in lobby restrictions from the House which include targetting lobby gifts as small as $3.00. One idea is to ban ANY gifts at all. These changes would likely be House rule changes, and would not need to be an official bill to pass. Sending a lawmaker a $3.25 greeting card, thanking them for showing up to a town hall meeting, would now be either be banned or be required to be reported to the ethics committee. I’m not sure $3.00 trinket hunting is what the ethics committee was designed to do.

Another disturbing rumor, is that the Senate may tinker with the practice of lobbyist sending notes to Senators on the floor. A lot happens when a bill appears on the floor for a vote. Lobbyist use Senate pages to send hand-written notes to lawmakers informing them of what surprises are inside a bill they are about to vote on. The effect of curbing lobbyist note-passing would be to further shut out public involvement from the Legislature, and to further empower the party in the majority.

These are some of the ideas and fears being discussed. We hope the Legislature enacts changes to fix problems, not create new ones.