Sen. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington, has taken direct aim at two sources of corruption in state government with two bills he has prefiled.
Engler, who has not accepted any gifts from lobbyists, wants his fellow legislators to follow his example and remove the appearance of impropriety. SB 807 calls for the following:
Under the act, members of the general assembly, judges, state-wide elected officials, agency heads, department and division directors of state government, members of state boards and commissions, and decision-making public servants shall not accept expenditures from any lobbyist or lobbyist principal. Public officials shall avoid an ethics violation if they reimburse the lobbyist or lobbyist principal within 45 days after the expenditure is reported to the Ethics Commission.
A news release issued by Engler's office Nov. 29 said, "In order to limit the gifts that elected officials, judges, and other public servants can accept, Sen. Engler will file a bill that would put an end to any gift that is defined as an expenditure by the Ethics Commission. Specifically, the bill would ban public officials from accepting meals, beverages, tickets to sporting events, and other forms of entertainment from lobbyists. Since Sen. Engler was elected to the legislature in 2002, he has not accepted any such gifts from lobbyists.
“I strongly believe that public servants should be in government to serve,” said Sen.
Engler. “Accepting meals, drinks, tickets or other gifts from lobbyists often leaves the public with the perception that public officials become involved in public service for reasons that are less than wholesome. I believe that by banning lobbyist gifts, we can reassure the public that their elected officials have sought their office not for self-serving, but honorable reasons.”
Another bill prefiled by Engler, SB 808, would change the way fee offices are awarded in Missouri. In the same news release, Engler said, "“License fee offices should be awarded to charitable or non-profit entities whenever possible. This bill will put an end to the system of political patronage which has been in effect for far too long, and hopefully result in a situation where the profits are utilized to the benefit of those people who patronize the license fee office.”
These would be great bills for the legislature to pass, but considering the general procedure followed by the Senate, don't expect this bill to ever emerge from committee, and if it does, expect it to be in an extremely watered down version.