Tuesday, February 20, 2007
My Representative Loves the Gravy Train
The Utah House of Representatives voted to nearly gut Representative Ralph Becker's HB178 which would have banned gifts over $5. An interim version of the bill simply asked that all meals provided by lobbyists should be fully reportable. Not a hard thing. But nearly every Republican in the House, plus one Democrat voted against it.
If a legislator doesn't make enough money, he or she has two choices--don't run for the legislature or sponsor a bill that gives legislators a larger per diem. But DON'T hide behind the skirts of lobbyists.
Patrick Painter, R-Nephi, my representative in the house, was in large company when he voted for the watered-down version of the bill. Actually, the bill was pretty much only water, as it barely made a dent in the amount of money lobbyists report that can't be tied to which legislators they were schmoozing. I admit, I haven't contacted Mr. Painter about the issue, but I will now. And I will hopefully communicate with my State Senator before this bill makes it to the Senate.
I guess the way HB178 was carved and gutted is better than nothing at all, but not by much. It puts a whole bunch of legislators in the position of saying "Yup, I voted fer that there lobbyin ruform" when they really didn't.
John Valentine, a man for whom I usually have respect, stated that because the legislative per diem is so low, legislators deserve to be treated to lunch by lobbyists. I disagree, and I supported Rep. Becker's original version of the bill. But wait a second! We're not even talking about that. We're talking about simply letting us know who you went to lunch with.
Dave Clark, who is my brother's representative from Santa Clara also voted for the bill, because it would have caused him a lot of problems. According to the Deseret News, Dave Clark stated, in very non sequiturial fashion that the original bill would not have allowed him to attend a neighborhood Christmas party, because the hostess was a lobbyist. Please.
I am beginning to see the point of the minority party in Utah. Republicans have been ensconced for so long as the majority power in Utah state politics, that many of them scarcely notice how easy it is to rationalize.