On the face of it, Rep. Steve Hunter, R-Joplin, would seem to be the last person you would expect to file a bill making it illegal for members of the General Assembly to work for lobbying organizations..but that is exactly what HB 1149, which had its first reading March 15 in the Missouri House of Representatives, purports to do.
The bill description reads: "This bill prohibits members of the General Assembly from being employed by or under contract to any organization engaged in
As I have pointed out numerous times on this blog, including in the July 15, 2005, edition, Hunter serves as a membership recruiter for Associated Industries of Missouri, an organization which exists for the sole purpose of lobbying on behalf of Missouri businesses. Why would Hunter file a bill that would put him out of a job (with AIM) or put him in defiance of the law?
The answer, simply, is he wouldn't and despite the misleading bill summary, it would have absolutely no effect on Hunter's side job. The key is about halfway through the bill, which says, "No member of the general assembly or the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, state treasurer or state auditor shall:" and then says this on the fourth item down:
(4) Be under contract to or be an employee of a firm or labor organization whose employment includes influencing the decisions of the general assembly, any state agency, or any political subdivision.
Hunter will argue, as he has before, that he is a membership recruiter and has nothing to do with lobbying anyone...even though his job is to find more clients for whom his employers can lobby. My guess would be this bill is more designed to put a crimp on union representatives in the legislature rather than those working for traditional lobbyists.
Hunter went to work for AIM shortly after the 2003 legislative session. Through 2003, he had filed no pro-business legislation. Since that time, he has annually offered bills designed to promote AIM's cause and weaken AIM's rivals...the same labor unions that appear to be the true target of HB 1149.
If this bill were designed to remove legislators from holding positions such as the one that Hunter holds with AIM, it might be worth supporting. Neither lobbyists nor representatives of labor unions should have seats in the General Assembly.
The bill also offers the following provision, which in view of some of the bills that are offered each year, is long overdue:
No member of the general assembly shall vote on any bill that is related to the member's profession or that would result in any monetary or personal gain for the member or would result in any member gaining an advantage in the workplace or market over a similarly employed person.