General Assembly Passes Legislation on Ethics Reform
This week the General Assembly passed three pieces of legislation regarding ethics reform – House Bill 1979, House Bill 2203 and House Bill 1983. House Bill 1983 was signed into law by the governor on April 14, and becomes effective August 28 of this year. The legislation reflects the effort of the General Assembly to advance ethics reform in a positive direction.
Both the House and the Senate truly agreed upon House Bill 1979 and House Bill 2203 this week. House Bill 1979 imposes a six-month “cooling off period” before former members of the General Assembly, former statewide elected officials and former holders of an office that required Senate confirmation can register to lobby in Missouri. The six-month break ensures that legislators maintain their commitments to Missourians as elected officials by focusing on serving constituents, rather than seeking positions with lobbying firms immediately after leaving office. The legislation applies to all current and future legislators. In addition, the “cooling off period” applies to a member if they resign early from office. Legislators or state-wide officials would not be allowed to register as a lobbyist during their elected term regardless of whether they left early or not. This solves the recent problem of legislators resigning from their terms early to serve with lobbyists in the Capitol.
House Bill 2203 relates to the investment of campaign funds, and it would require former public officials to dissolve their candidate campaign committee before registering as lobbyists. The bill also limits how long campaign funds can be invested, and how long they can be used. Former legislators would no longer be able to give money from their campaign committees to other campaign committees to later be hired as a consultant. By supporting this legislation, we are helping to prevent campaign funds from being used for personal uses, as well as bringing more integrity to the political process.
House Bill 1983 specifies that no statewide elected official or member of the General Assembly shall serve as a paid political consultant. This includes specified political activities on behalf of other individuals holding office as statewide elected officials or members of the General Assembly. The law will prevent unethical compensation, which adds transparency to our state system.
This week, a Hungarian delegation visited the Capitol. They are currently in the United States to explore a business opportunity at Enginuity Worldwide in Mexico, Missouri. This local company is quickly becoming recognized around the world for their successes in augmenting and enhancing coal-fired energy generation technologies.
Enginuity Worldwide’s innovative biotechnology turns local agriculture waste into renewable biomass fuel, which can be co-fired with coal during the energy production process. The biomass allows the coal to burn longer and more efficiently, which enables coal-fired power plants to meet environmental regulations without the need for expensive large-scale plant upgrades. Enginuity Worldwide’s work is both healthy for the environment and helpful in keeping power plants open longer.
It is an honor to be your State Senator and my door is always open to your concerns, questions or comments. Please feel free to contact me at (573) 751-2757 or visit my web page at www.senate.mo.gov/riddle.