POSTCARDS FROM THE LEGE: AAS Blog
Howard says legislators need to cool off before lobbying
By W. Gardner Selby
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Austin Rep. Donna Howard pitched a proposal sure to draw legislative attention Wednesday. But her House Bill 602 was all but pronounced dead on arrival—by someone testifying for it. The measure would bar legislators from becoming Capitol lobbyists for two years after they end their legislative terms. “I am not trying to prevent anyone from following a logical career progression,” Howard told the House Committee on Elections. She said instead she hopes legislators combat distrust of public officials by regulating themselves. Fat chance, said Andrew Wheat, testifying on behalf of Texans for Public Justice, a non-partisan group best known for tracking campaign spending. Wheat, favoring the proposal, said more than 25 states impose a cooling-off period on former legislators before they can become lobbyists. But “I am predicting that it will not pass,” Wheat said, saying in a statement that the measure “must run a bloody gauntlet past those sitting legislators who already have contemplated future lobby careers. .. I urge you to prove me wrong.” Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, likewise expressed pessimism. He followed the presentation by passing to members a suggested substitute imposing the two-year restriction on aides to GOP Gov. Rick Perry. The committee left the matter pending.