Lobbyists will be sad about new rules passed in states

State legislatures are often more appealing for lobbyists looking to move pet policy projects, particularly as Washington continues to remain gridlocked and broken. That’s why, as the Washington Post reports today, “a number of legislatures are putting in place new rules on lobbying state officials.”

Most of the new regulations aim to force greater disclosure and define what a lobbyist actually does. Here’s the skinny:

  • Connecticut and Kansas raised the amount a person has to earn from lobbying before needing to register with the state.
  • Nevada banned lobbyists gifts to politicians.
  • Virginia created a new ethics council to manage lobbying disclosure filing.
  • New York enacted an amnesty program from unregistered influencers who can come forward to properly register as a lobbyist without fear of punishment.
  • A Missouri Republican wants to define sex with a lobbyist as a gift(!), thereby banning the practice.

These new rules “illustrate the degree to which states are now paying more attention to the influence industry.” That’s a good thing, because many states aren’t doing so well in that regard, according to the most recent State Integrity Project, which grades the nation on their ethics and lobbying rules.

Many of the proposals enacted or being considered across the country are in our Blueprints for Democracy report, which details the best ways states can crack down on the influence industry without impeding on citizens’ rights to redress their government.

When citizens know that lobbyists are properly regulated, they can feel confident that the policy coming from their elected officials represents their interests, not those who can afford to pay to play. It’s a critical, and often overlooked, aspect to money-in-politics reform. We’ll keep you updated as the efforts to make everyone play by the same common-sense rules progress.