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< Senate floor session open thread | Main | Senate cleans up >

The ex-legislators full employment act

Posted at 11:18 AM on April 18, 2007 by Bob Collins

One of the bills I've been interested in is the bill that would prohibit former legislators from becoming lobbyists for a year after leaving office.

It failed today on a 33-to-33 vote in the Senate. Supporters say the bill is necessary to reduce the appearance of coziness between lawmakers and lobbyists. DFL Senator Sharon Erickson Ropes of Winona said a one year cooling off period will reduce the appearance of impropriety.

I didn't, unfortunately, get a chance to listen to the debate. But it's worth noting that the last crop of lawmakers did OK in the after-market. Just a few months ago, former Sen. Sharon Marko got hired by 3M, in the wake of the contaminated water problem in the East Metro. Mark used to represent Cottage Grove. Maybe she would've spoken on 3M's behalf if she were still representing the good folks of Cottage Grove. Maybe not. But under this legislation, she'd have had a year to think about it.

And, for the record, MPR is in this game too. It hired former Senate president Dean Johnson as a lobbyist recently.

I don't know whether being a lobbyist right after being a legislator is a good idea or not. There's merit on both sides of the argument, which appears to bridge the parties.

And you thought bipartisanship was dead.

I was -- and still am -- more interested in seeing whether lawmakers have the ability to make decisions in areas where there is a clear conflict of interest.

Today they decided not to limit their post-legislative job opportunities. Would you do much to limit yours?