Senate kills lawmaker-to-lobbyist restrictionsby Tom Scheck, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — A bill that would forbid state lawmakers, state commissioners and agency heads from becoming lobbyists for one year after leaving their jobs failed on a tie vote in the Minnesota Senate on Wednesday.
The measure died on a 33-33 vote. Supporters say the bill is necessary to reduce the appearance of coziness between lawmakers and lobbyists.
Sen. Sharon Erickson Ropes, DFL-Winona, said a one-year cooling-off period would reduce the appearance of impropriety.
"When you have a legislator who has been in the system -- and a decision-maker, and one of our peers that comes to us representing these groups or projects or special interests now. What we're talking about is a level of influence that we have to be very careful about," she said during floor debate.
Critics of the bill said they haven't seen any problems with the so-called "revolving door." Others said lobbyists are helpful because they provide information for lawmakers.
Republican Sen. Paul Koering of Fort Ripley said he thought it was a mistake to put the restrictions on lobbyists.
"When I first got here a little over four years ago, I wasn't a big fan of lobbyists," he said. "But now that I've been here, I realize that the lobbyists are a part of the whole machine that runs this place. We seek out a lot of good information from lobbyists."
Twenty-six states have some sort of law that prevents lawmakers and others from being lobbyists right away.
- All Things Considered, 04/18/2007, 5:50 p.m.