By Kip Kendrick
On Friday, House Speaker Todd Richardson released the long awaited Intern Policy recommendations in response to last session’s scandal involving the former Speaker and an intern. I am pleased that my recommendations were taken seriously by Speaker Richardson and incorporated into his recommendations. The policy changes, when implemented, will be an important step in changing the atmosphere in Jefferson City.
The process by which the policy revisions were drafted and debated, however, can and should be improved in the future. I was appointed to the Work Group on May 22nd that was tasked with drafting recommendations for Intern Policy revisions. When it became clear that the work group would not be convened, I submitted detailed policy recommendations to the work group’s members and to the Speaker on July 24th. A bi-partisan problem requires a bi-partisan solution. It would have been preferable––not to mention transparent––had the Speaker’s office convened the Work Group or at least communicated directly with the Work Group to inform members of steps taken, rather than handling the process behind closed doors. While the process should have been more transparent, the end result will be substantial policy changes in the House of Representatives. That is the most important outcome and is what the people of Missouri should expect from their elected officials.
I personally thanked the Speaker and the Chief Clerk over the weekend for their willingness to take my recommendations seriously and for the substantial policy revisions that were released on Friday. While this is an important step in restoring the reputation of the House of Representatives, it is just that––a step. The conversation on ethics reform must continue and broaden to include limits on lobbyist gifts, limits on campaign contributions, and ending the revolving door from lawmaker to lobbyist. Until we address each of these major impediments, our job with respect to ethics reform will remain unfinished.