The state House and Senate sponsors of a bill to keep lawmakers from becoming lobbyists immediately after leaving office predict there will be a compromise on it.
Backers of ethics reform say the public’s perception is that lawmakers’ actions and votes could be aimed at pleasing potential future employers, and the answer is to slow down the process of going from elected official to lobbyist. The House proposed a wait of a year after the end of a term. The Senate proposed only that a person wait until a term is up.
Now members of each chamber must try to agree on a bill that both chambers would approve.
House sponsor Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia) favors the full year, but said answers to other questions could play into a compromise.
Chiefly, the House proposed that the bill should not apply to lawmakers already in office. Some argued that legislators ran under the current system, and that to restrict their ability to become lobbyists now would be to change the rules they accepted when they ran. The Senate version would apply the bill’s prohibition to those currently in office.
“I think the language that we had, while it wasn’t my first choice, I think it was the right language to say that we’ll let everybody make their decision in their next election or re-election as to whether or not they want to be a part of this,” said Rowden. “If I had it my way we’d just say everybody’s subject to it and we’ll move on our merry way.”
Senator Bob Onder (R-Lake Saint Louis) isn’t sure what his Senate colleagues will approve, but he does believe the legislature needs to pass a so-called “cooling off period.”
“The way I look at it is we occupy a position of public trust and the public expects more out of us,” Onder told Missourinet.
Both expect a conference committee of House and Senate members to resume work on the bill next week, soon after the legislature returns from Spring Break.