House passes bill to stop buying of votes using high-paying state jobs


SALEM—The House of Representatives unanimously approved an ethics reform bill to set a “waiting period” on legislators before they can seek and obtain non-elected positions in the state’s executive branch.  HB 3446 would extend the current moratorium on private-sector lobbying to include legislators who are seeking certain positions in state agencies.

“This bill sends the message that legislators are committed to serving the public, not to advancing their own careers,” said Rep. Tim Freeman, the bill’s chief sponsor. “HB 3446 prevents legislators from using their positions to win higher-paying jobs in state government.  Because legislators have influence over agency policies and budgets, this bill will eliminate potential conflicts of interest.”

The bill would require former members to wait at least one year after they’ve left the Legislature before they can seek and obtain work for state agencies.  House Speaker Bruce Hanna (R-Roseburg) has worked to pass this ethics reform bill since 2010, after several legislators left the Capitol for positions in the Executive Branch.

“A waiting period would assure that legislators can’t use their positions to win lucrative state jobs, and it guarantees they wouldn’t be able to leverage their power and influence to get what they want,” Speaker Hanna said.  “Best of all, it forces legislators to compete with unemployed Oregonians and other qualified applicants for top state positions.  In fact, a mandatory waiting period may be the only way we can assure a fair process for hiring people or promoting current employees within an agency.”

HB 3446 exempts positions that require Senate confirmation, which are already subject to public scrutiny and debate.  It also allows a former member to take a position in state government as long as recruitment for position is advertised, the minimum qualifications do not include legislative service, and the employer considers other qualified applicants.

The bill now moves to the Senate for further consideration. Closing the Capitol’s revolving door by establishing a one-year “waiting period” on former legislators before they can seek agency jobs is part of the House Republicans’ 2011 Jobs and Reform Agenda.