Missouri Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, is the sponsor of a bill that has received initial approval in the upper chamber. It would effectively ban lobbyist gifts, in addition to requiring lobbyists to file annual expense reports versus the current monthly reports.

“They can still technically give lobbyist gifts to local officials,” he said on the Senate floor. “They can’t give lobbyists gifts to us, right? We’re banned from taking lobbyists gifts, but that prohibition did not extend to local officials.”

The proposed lobbyist gift ban on local elected government leaders does not prevent candidates, including candidates for reelection, from accepting donations in accordance with campaign finance law.

In addition, the bill would require lobbyists to file annual expense reports, versus the current monthly reports.

“If we ban lobbyist gifts for local officials as well, then there really is no need for any sort of monthly reporting because at that point there’s no elected official that exists in Missouri that’s able to take a lobbyist gift.”

An added provision from state Sen. Tracy McCreery, D-Olivette, would allow for campaign finances to be used for certain legal fees.

“Six House members and the entire Senate were served papers in our official capacity, St. Louis Sports Authority versus the NFL lawsuit, and I was given advice from the Missouri Ethics Commission that I cannot use my campaign funds for that so I had to hire a lawyer and pay for it with my own money, even though I don’t think anyone listening to this would think I wasn’t functioning in my official capacity as a state representative,” she said.

If the Senate passes Rowden’s bill, it would go to the House for consideration.

Click here for more information on Senate Bill 378.