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Sen. Richard presents ethics bill

JEFFERSON CITY– Senate Majority Leader Ron Richard, R-Joplin, presented his ethics bill earlier today. The hearing lasted only several minutes, and there were no testimonies for or against the bill. It is likely that bill will pass without much objection.

Senate Bill 11 would institute a two-year “cooling off” period for legislators, which would prohibit them from becoming paid lobbyists for two years after their completed legislative term. The legislation bans all lobbyists from spending on out of state or country plane tickets, food and accommodation. The bill also clarifies gift reporting. Lobbyists are required to report all clients they represent even if they are not directly receiving gifts or donations from those clients.

Missouri lawmakers in both chambers have been proactive in ethics reform thus far in the legislative session. Rep. Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia has filed several ethics bills requiring additional reporting of donations and gifts exceeding $500 to any elected official during the legislative session and flatly banning any lawmaker from soliciting a position as a lobbyist before leaving office.

“The strategy in the House is a little different than the Senate, which is to be expected, but I think the final product can be one that both bodies will endorse and support,” said Rowden.

In Gov. Jay Nixon’s State of the State speech he criticized lawmakers for not passing more ethics legislation.

“What good are we to the people who elected us if they can’t trust us to represent their best interests,” asked Nixon. “We have the weakest ethics laws in the nation.”