Two more ethics bills clear Missouri House

One measure imposes strict limits on lobbyists’ spending

By Jack Morrisroe

JEFFERSON CITY — Lobbyist gifts to public officials would be restricted, the restrictions would be extended to local gifts to local government officials and conflict-of-interest requirements would be expanded under the latest package of ethics bills passed by the Missouri House.

One bill now before the Senate would limit how much a lobbyist could give to a legislator or state official. The other would impose ethics requirements on private advisers appointed by the governor and other officials of the executive branch.

Missouri currently has no limit on how much a lobbyist can spend on an elected official.

The measure passed last week by the House imposes strict limits.

A lobbyist expenditure could be made for a public official only if it was provided to the entire General Assembly or to all of Missouri’s statewide elected officials — such as a group dinner.

There are some exceptions such as campaign contributions, plaques and awards of $50 or less in value and sporting tickets if the official was performing in some role at the event.

The measure also extends the lobbyist-gift restrictions to local officials.

“If we are going to be living under those standards, all elected officials ought to be living under those standards,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Justin Alferman, R-Hermann.

The other ethics bill passed by the House would include private advisers of executive branch officials under state laws imposing requirements for personal financial disclosure and restrictions on conflicts of interest.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, who filed a lawsuit against the proposal of a two-person task force named by the governor to put together an NFL stadium package that involved issuing state bond.

These latest two bills passed by the House follow earlier House approval of measures that would impose a “cooling-off” period before a legislator or state official could become a lobbyist, toughen financial disclosure requirements and restrict elected officials working as paid political consultants.