State Rep. Noel Torpey, R-Independence, has signed on to support an ethics reform measure in the Missouri General Assembly.
“I think it’s so important to be transparent,” Torpey said.
He is co-sponsoring a bill offered by Rep. Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, that would limit gifts and set rules on when legislators could become lobbyists.
Currently a Missouri legislator can leave office – even quit in the middle of a term, as happens occasionally – and immediately take a job lobbying lawmakers for or against legislation.
Torpey used this example: He is chairman of the House Small Business Committee. There’s nothing to stop the National Federal of Independent Business, a powerful voice on small-business issues, from approaching him about go to work for it.
“There’s no rule,” he said.
At the federal level, members who leave Congress have to wait two years before they can lobby.
“It matches federal law,” Torpey said of Rowden’s bill. “Even the feds got that right.”
Torpey said he thinks the bill has a good chance of passage, and he said he’s likely to file his own bill, as he has in the past, calling for the same change.
Rowden’s bill also would:
• Limit the gifts that legislators can take, prohibiting lobbyists from making a single expenditure of more than $50 for a public official or spending more than $500 on a public official quarterly.
• The names of legislators who attend dinners sponsored for legislative committees would have to be disclosed.
• Candidates for state office would have to report donations of more than $500 to the Missouri Ethics Commission within 72 hours.