JEFFERSON CITY - It was ethics day in the Missouri statehouse, Tuesday Feb. 25.
Ethics bills presented to lawmakers in both the House and Senate, would:
Each of the five different bills presented in the House General Laws Committee were criticized for virtually the same reasons.
Several committee members were concerned with how these bills would affect their dinners with lobbyists at the end of the day.
"If everybody was just taking meals, it'd probably be one thing," said Rep. Kevin McManus, D-Jackson County, a sponsor of one of the ethics bills.
McManus said he is not trying to terminate the process between lobbyist and legislators, but he said he wants to address the excessiveness of lobbyist gifts. He said his goal is to restore the faith of the Missouri general public when they see the lobbyist reports printed in newspapers throughout the state.
Rep. Don Gosen, R-St. Louis County, asked about the possibility of legislators resigning early in order to start their two or three year cooling off period sooner.
Another bill sponsor, Rep. Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, said in reply that that is a possible result of the legislation, but he said the desire of the cooling off period is to make the legislative process as pure as possible.
Rep. John McCaherty, R-St. Louis County, asked why the General Assembly only would be affected by these ethics bills and not the governor or executive branch. Rowden said he did not leave them out for any particular reason and would be willing to make amendments on that issue.
McCaherty also questioned bill sponsors on the purpose of not allowing legislators to work as paid consultants.
"You're limiting what someone can do for a living," McCaherty said.
In response, bill sponsor Rep. Robert Cornejo, R-St. Peters, said that it gives the wrong appearance and can be viewed as impropriety to the public.
Rep. Mike Colona, D-St. Louis City, said that he really did not see the problem with the way things are and that full disclosure has already provided complete transparency.
The discussion of ethics bills in the Senate entailed much less discussion, but bills proposed by Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis City, and Sen. Will Kraus, R-Jackson County, both addressed similar principles.
"Transparency is truly an issue when it comes to campaign finance reform," Nasheed said.
Nasheed also said she thought constituents would be proud of the Senate for passing ethics reform bills.
Neither the House nor Senate took action on any of the bills presented.
Missouri Digital News is produced by Missouri Digital News, Inc. -- a non profit organization of current and former journalists.