Legislators have started picking apart seven bills that target ethics practices in Missouri.
Representative Jay Barnes (R-Jefferson City) sponsors four of the bills that his committee spent time discussing possible loopholes and flaws in–bills that would ban lobbyist gifts to elected officials with a price of $30 or more; that would bar legislators from receiving compensation for serving as a political consultant for another legislators; that would prevent people leaving the legislature from becoming lobbyists for at least a year; and that would specify that lobbyist expenditures incurred out-of-state must be reported within 14 days.
The committee asked about various situations that those and three other bills might impact, looking for loopholes or unnecessary restrictions. Barnes says troubleshooting these proposals is key.
“This gets to exactly what we were talking about and how hard it is to craft these bills in a way that a lawyer can’t figure out how to get around, and the intent is to craft them that way,” said Barnes.
He says he intends to keep those seven bills separate.
“Everyone in this room knows where omnibus ethics bills end up at the end of session, so the idea is to keep them small and to actually pass some bills,” said Barnes.
His bill to cap lobbyist gifts at $30 doesn’t say whether that limit is per gift, per lobbyist, or otherwise specify the restriction. Barnes says that will be decided as the bill is debated.
“Maybe per lobbyist per day, also with an aggregate cap in place for legislators and for lobbyists to any individual legislator,” he theorized. “I think you’d have to do it on multiple, different layers.”
Barnes says his committee will hear legislation that would put a cap on campaign contributions, but that position is not favored by the legislative Republican supermajorities.
Three other bills heard today are sponsored by Representative Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia) and would require campaign contributions of more than $500 be reported within 48-hours; would bar a governor from making appointments of state legislators to positions in exchange for votes and would require political contribution disclosures by gubernatorial appointments; and would specify that any advertisement using the name, image, or voice of an elected official have a disclaimer stating whether taxpayer dollars paid for it.
Barnes says he and Rowden will meet and consider possible changes to each bill before they are voted on.