The state Senate has rejected the House’s proposal to keep lawmakers from becoming lobbyists immediately after leaving office, but the House sponsor plans to stick to his ethics guns.
The House proposed making lawmakers and elected officials wait a year after the end of a term before becoming a lobbyist. Many senators opposed a so-called “cooling off period,” and that chamber voted to instead make them wait only until the end of a term to cross over.
The House sponsor of that bill, Representative Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia) says that’s not strong enough.
“As far as a House priority I don’t think it does what we set out to do. I think the goal from the beginning was to take significant steps forward,” Rowden told Missourinet.
Some senators speaking against the 1-year version said it would have done nothing to effect scandals at the Capitol in the past year. The former House Speaker, John Diehl, Junior, resigned after admitting to exchanging sexually-suggestive texts with a college intern, and former senator Paul Levota resigned admit allegations of sexual harassment.
Senators also alluded to the resignation this week of Representative Don Gosen, though the reason for his resignation has not been made public beyond saying it involved “personal” issues.
Rowden says whether the 1-year wait would have had any impact in their situations isn’t relevant to whether it’s a good policy.
“The lapses and the issues that we’ve seen in these three cases recently seem to be for the most part a moral failure, and there are certain things that we just can’t fix,” said Rowden. “For us I think what we can fix and what we do have the opportunity to put our stamp on is the environment.”
The House is likely to reject the Senate’s version of Rowden’ bill, and the two chambers could then confer and try to find a position they can agree on. Rowden expects to fight for the 1-year wait.
“I spoke briefly with Speaker [Todd] Richardson today and I think the House is going to attempt to keep its stronger position,” said Rowden. He called that, “a stronger position … I think that speaks louder to the general public that we’re serious about what we’re trying to accomplish and I think we’ll keep fighting for that as long as we possibly can.”