The state Senate Thursday voted 9-12, with 13 not voting, on House Speaker Jeremy Gillam’s bill to open up more loopholes in the state ethics law already made more porous by the legislature since it was approved by voters.
In my absence, David Ramsey has written fully about how, even with amendments, the bill expands opportunities for special interest paid local and foreign travel and increases opportunity for lobbyists to be present on travels to look after care and feeding of lawmakers. It also opens an unlimited swag bag of paid wining, dining and gifts at the Louis XIV-style baronial dinners that have become lobbyist-funded traditions for the House and Senate leaders at the end of yet another good-for-lobbyists legislative session.
Has the Senate developed a sense of propriety? We’ll see. The vote was expunged and there’ll be another roll call on the question of more hog slopping. Some of this is likely more about House-Senate relations generally than ethical considerations.
We could hope. Gilliam and others have tried to cloud this issue by searching for little impediments to lobbyist and foreign government influence building.It is only a smokescreen.
This much is simple: 1) The voters TRIED to put a rein on freebies for legislators at the ballot box. Some legislators have been working ever since to create dodges around the amendment. 2) Do you really think it’s vital for legislators to take free trips to foreign countries.
This is a rare piece of good news amid a legislative session I’ve been watching from afar for almost three weeks in the manner of a horror movie — being fearful of peeking at what’s playing on the screen.