The state House is off to a quick start sending the Senate ethics reform proposals, and will work on more this week, but Democrats aren’t satisfied with the ethics reforms the state House has approved so far. Representative John Rizzo (R-Kansas City) and others say they don’t go far enough and don’t think Democrats had enough say in what those bills would do.
“If we are done, that would be tragic in my opinion, to be done in maybe the second week of session,” said Rizzo.
House Speaker Todd Richardson (R-Poplar Bluff) said much more work on ethics reform is coming. Four bills will be heard by a committee tomorrow.
“We’ve got some things involving lobbyist gifts that will probably be the biggest meat of that, and I’m hopeful those bills will move out of committee and hopefully we’ll have them to the floor very soon,” said Richardson.
That committee will consider a bill that would ban lobbyist gifts, as well as proposals to limit how long campaign funds can be invested and how they can be used; to bar former lawmakers from being lobbyists until they empty campaign accounts; and to keep people appointed to task forces and commissions from profiting from the recommendations they make.
As for Democrats’ criticism that the first four bills didn’t go far enough, Richardson said they’re playing politics.
“I felt a little bit like we were listening to Goldilocks out there. They want something that’s just right. Well in this body you don’t often get exactly what you want,” said Richardson. “The process we’ve used – to do single subject bills – is the right way to do this conversation. Year after year after year we’ve passed omnibus ethics bills and none of them have gotten to the governor’s desk.”
The House Committee on Government Oversight and Accountability will hold a hearing on ethics proposals tomorrow at noon.
Legislation to be considered: HB 2165 (Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia) on dissolving campaign committees before becoming a lobbyist; HB 2166 (Justin Alferman, R-Hermann) a ban on lobbyist gifts to lawmakers; HB 2203 (Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City) investment of campaign funds; and HB 2226 (Barnes) profiting from decisions made while on a task force or commission.