Sunday, April 09, 2006

Missourian article explores state lobbying reform efforts

An article in today's Columbia Missourian takes a look at bills in the Missouri Legislature that would supposedly curb lobbyists' influence.
Of particular interest are the thoughts of Rep. Carl Bearden:
"House Speaker Pro Tem Carl Bearden, R-St. Charles, said some people believe if a bill doesn't allow a legislator to take more than a cup of coffee from a lobbyist, then substantive ethics reform has failed. 'It’s in the eye of the beholder,' Bearden said."
Any beholder who checked Missouri Ethics Commission records would find Bearden has already accepted at least $1,109.91 from lobbyists in 2006, more than half of what he accepted during 2005, when Commission records show him with $1,880.66 in gifts.
Of this year's total, he has received $683.04 from Phillip Schnieders and Sam Barbee, lobbyists for the Missouri Automobile Dealers Association. Of that total, $231.36 was for travel, $377 for entertainment, and the rest for meals, food and beverage, according to the Commission documents.
Bearden is the sponsor of HB 1561, which would require used car dealers to have to undergo training from the Department of Revenue to receive their licenses. The bill also includes a number of hurdles designed to make it more difficult for competitors, even of the backyard variety, to do business in the state.

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