Little Hope Left for Ethics Reform Bill
The House Rules Committee, which acts as a gatekeeper for bills to reach the House floor, killed the ethics reform bill Tuesday. Republicans, who dominate the committee, were at odds with campaign contribution limits in the bill.
Democrats used a discharge petition to pull the bill out of the Rules Committee, getting 56 members of their own party and three Republicans to sign the measure. The state's Constitution requires 55 lawmakers sign a petition to force a bill out of committee.
The bill is now on to the full House, but it's going nowhere, said Rep. Kevin Wilson, R-Neosho, who chairs the House Ethics Committee.
"Both the House bill and the House committee substitute to the Senate bill — they're dead," Wilson said. "They're on the informal calendar and, from there, we have to see how we can still accomplish ethics."
The broad bill has 30 to 40 provisions, Wilson said.
"It gave more teeth to the ethics commission to investigate charges without a complaint. We had a lobbying ban. Paid political consulting was gone. There was a lot of provisions on lobbyists' gifts to legislators," Wilson said. "There were a lot of good provisions in that bill."
The campaign contribution limit would have shut off individual campaign contributions for statewide and legislative offices at $5,000.
"From what I heard from the Rules Committee, there were members who didn't want campaign levels on any level," Wilson said. "I was getting ready to discuss that with the other committee members when the discharge petition came through."
Rep. Terry Witte, D-Vandalia, wrote the discharge petition and is also on the Ethics committee. He said there may still be hope for the ethics reform bill, including the controversial contribution limits.
"I believe that the leadership of the House and Senate can accomplish a lot of action in a short amount of time if they want to," Witte said. "If they want to."
Missouri's legislative session ends Friday, May 14.
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