A Nevada Assembly committee considered a bill Tuesday that would require new lobbyists and newly elected and appointed officials to take a course on ethics, and would increase lobbyist disclosure requirements.
AB142 would require that legislative lobbyists file quarterly disclosure reports when the Legislature is not in session. They also would be asked to list the issues they supported or opposed in their monthly reports during the session.
The bill also places the same requirements that now exist for legislative lobbyists on people who lobby officials in the executive branch of government.
Assemblyman Marcus Conklin, D-Las Vegas, said there are disclosure rules that apply to lobbyists who show up for Nevada's 120-day legislative sessions that are held every other year, but there are no disclosure requirements for lobbyists of the executive branch.
"For the 120 days that we are up here, we have full disclosure of lobbying activity and then for the 20 months that we are not around, there is absolutely no disclosure on the lobbying that takes place for public officials who have the ability to ... make public policy that everyone has to live under on a daily basis," Conklin said.
Several witnesses, including ACLU of Nevada President Richard Siegel, told the committee that covers ethics issues that the bill would unfairly restrict free speech.
Assemblywoman Ellen Koivisto, D-Las Vegas, the panel's chairwoman, said that based on the complaints the bill would need some reworking. But she added that bill backers were simply trying to avoid a "Jack Abramoff situation" in the state.
The secretary of state's office told the committee that the legislation would increase the agency's workload and increase its costs by up to $100,000 a year. Representatives of the office asked that the fees outlined in the bill be paid to their office to cover the costs.