Thursday, February 22, 2018

Missouri Senate Finally Passes Bill Reducing Gifts From Lobbyists

(This was written two weeks before the Missouri Senate passed a bill related to gifts from lobbyists.)

There’s no such thing as a free lunch and the legislature is no exception. Unlimited gifts from lobbyists to lawmakers may be the most symbolic issue in regard to special interests. The Kansas City Star has frequently reported on legislative efforts to curtail this activity, including a database of gifts received by each Missouri lawmaker.

Nonetheless, we can only remain hopeful that the Senate passes this watered-down bill that would still allow gifts from lobbyists in a group setting. These points and more were brilliantly conveyed in Jason Hancock’s recent piece, “Free meals, free booze, free travel: Is this the year Missouri bans lobbyist gifts?

Remarkably, Rep. Rocky Miller asserted that passing this bill could harm public sentiment toward government. No. If this bill fails to be passed, again, it will only contribute to most voters’ cynical view of their elected officials.

We could take comfort in saying that the corrupt legislators need to be voted out of office. However, that’s where the rubber meets the road in the cycle of corruption. Missouri has no “cooling-off” period, i.e lawmakers can leave office and immediately work as a lobbyist. Hence, this bill, along with others, needs to be passed to achieve true ethics reform.  

1 comment: