Friday, January 23, 2009

Lobbying Reform Bills Biting the Dust in State Senate

Today's Indianapolis Star editorializes about the apparent demise of four Senate bills aimed at lobbying reform. Three of the bills have been assigned to the Senate Rules Committee, which is typically a graveyard for bills that Senate leaders do not want heard. The fourth sponsored by Senator Delph is not expected to get a hearing. The editorial provides a good summary of the bills:

Senate Bill 17, which would reduce the minimum for reporting to $25, has been assigned to the Senate Rules committee, frequently a sign that the leadership has no intention of moving the legislation forward.

SB 242, which would require lobbyists to file weekly reports on their contacts with legislators and staff members, was dealt a similar fate.

So too was SB 15, a proposal authored by Sen. Pat Miller that would establish a one-year cooling-off period before a former legislator could work as a lobbyist before the General Assembly.

Another of Delph's proposals, SB 73, would treat university officials who lobby legislators as, well, lobbyists, meaning that existing requirements and restrictions would apply. That bill escaped assignment to the Rules committee, but Delph doubts that it will advance out of the Commerce and Public Policy Committee.

The leadership of the State Senate and House have had a tin ear when it comes to lobbying reform. But out in the real world you are seeing growing support for good government reforms not only for those proposed here, but also to curb the unspoken "pay to play" politics that is increasingly distorted privatization efforts.

The one encouraging thing for me is to see two Indianapolis-area Republicans, Senators Pat Miller and Mike Delph, leading the charge. Marion County GOP politics have in the past has created a climate where the politicians slated and ultimately elected are status quo types lacking in leadership and creativity. Kudos need to be given out for Senators Miller and Delph as well as Republican Phil Hinkle in the South for their willingness to rock the boat and take on the status quo. Keep up the good work legislators.

1 comment:

Diana Vice said...

We'll just keep a growing list of all the particular grievances that the people have regarding this subject and present it every year to members of the state legislature. We can also make this an election issue in many districts throughout the state since it seems like it's the only time some of them listen to their constituents. We'll definitely keep a "naughty and nice list" and make sure voters know exactly who suppressed these worthwhile measures.