JEFFERSON CITY _ While House and the Senate committees consider bills to ban gifts from lobbyists, Philip Morris USA wined and dined some 175 people, many of whom were state legislators, at the Jefferson City Country Club.
The dinner came on the same day a Senate committee heard a bill that would forbid local governments from adopting more stringent anti-smoking laws than the state.
But two legislators who attended the dinner said it had been planned far in advance and had nothing to do with the bill.
"We received the invitations long before the Senate bill was introduced," said Rep. Raymond Hand, R-St. Louis County.
The tobacco industry favors a prohibition on local tobacco legislation but testified against Quick's bill because it did not go far enough.
Philip Morris products like macaroni and cheese, chocolate, and coffee were offered at the buffet dinner, but cigarettes were absent from the samples.
"The dinner was not unusual," said Rep. Todd Akin, R-St. Louis. "Sometimes we are offered five dinners in one night."
"Legislation was not talked about and there was no business at all. The tobacco lobby usually has a very soft sell," Akin said.
The dinner which included catfish and prime rib, is exactly the kind of lobbyist event that bills introduced in both the House and the Senate would prevent in the future.
A similar bill sponsored by Sen. Marvin Singleton, R-Joplin, also encountered questions about rigid language when it was reviewed by a Senate committee on Monday.
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