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Wallingford: Improving Missouri’s Ethical Standard

  

By Sen. Wayne Wallingford, R-Cape Girardeau

Ethics reform has been a major goal for the General Assembly during the past two legislative sessions. In both the Senate and House, multiple pieces of legislation aimed at raising the Show-Me state’s ethical bar have been introduced and considered. This week has been an especially productive one as far as ethics are concerned as my fellow senators and I had our first all-nighter of the Second Regular Session, during which we started a very significant discussion on ethics reform.

The General Assembly’s strategy so far this Session has been to focus on single-subject pieces of legislation, which are specific to one certain item within a subject that can gain a large amount of support, working together with other bills to tackle broad issues piece-by-piece. Compared to large-scale, omnibus legislation with many facets and combined legislation that is often difficult to pass, these single-issue reform bills are more straight-forward and targeted. This week, the Senate received six House bills pertaining to ethics, a big step toward improving the Missouri government’s code of conduct. Here are the six pieces of legislation that were passed from the House to the Senate this week:

  • House Bill 1575 (Rep. Rowden) – Institutes a time requirement for officials to report travel expenses paid by a third party.
  • House Bill 1979 (Rep. Rowden) – “Revolving door policy,” prohibits members of the General Assembly, statewide elected officials and holders of any office that requires Senate confirmation from becoming a lobbyist before there elected term is completed.
  • House Bill 1983 (Rep. Dogan) – Prohibits statewide elected officials and members of the General Assembly from serving as paid political consultants.
  • House Bill 2166 (Rep. Alferman) – Prohibits lobbyist gifts of more than $50 to state public officials.
  • House Bill 2203 (Rep. Barnes) – Requires former public officials to dissolve their candidate committee upon registering as a lobbyist.
  • House Bill 2226 (Rep. Barnes) – Expands the definition of “public official” to include certain executive branch appointees.

The Senate will continue to debate multiple ethics bills on the floor during the coming weeks and has already had several serious discussions on ethics legislation, which will hopefully move to the House and ultimately the governor’s desk to become law. Missouri lawmakers have a certain ethical standard we are responsible for upholding, and the Senate will continue to work toward a brighter, more ethical future throughout this Session and beyond.