Proposed 2-year lawmaker-to-lobbyist moratorium should be expanded, some say

Fellow members of the Legislative Operations and Elections Committee told Assemblyman Pat Hickey Tuesday that his proposed “cooling-off” period for ex-lawmakers to become lobbyists doesn’t go far enough.

Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, and Chairman James Ohrenschall, D-Las Vegas, questioned why the bill shouldn’t be expanded to city and county bodies and even possibly General Improvement Districts.

“Why stop here? Why can’t we have this extend to city, county and agency officials?” Ohrenschall asked.

“Let’s throw everybody in there,” Kirkpatrick said. “Everybody should be held to the same standard.”

Hickey originally proposed a two-year moratorium from the day a lawmaker leaves office before he or she can return as a paid lobbyist. He offered an amendment, however, that would shorten that to a ban just through the end of the regular legislative session, following when someone leaves the Senate or Assembly.

“Usually bills like this are the result of scandals,” he said. “There’s no scandal to speak of here in Nevada, but I’m here to argue it’s the right thing to do.”

He said lawmakers shouldn’t be able immediately to use their influence and connections after leaving office.

There are about a dozen former lawmakers working as paid lobbyists at the Legislature. Most left more than a session ago and, so, would not be affected by the bill even if it were current law.

Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, D-Las Vegas, said she doesn’t think shortening the time is good because just a one-year or shorter ban isn’t “going to undo the relationships.”

Asked what the penalty would be for violating the rule, Legal Counsel Kevin Powers told the committee it would be a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of six months in the county jail and a $1,000 fine.

Hickey said he would talk with those seeking to expand Assembly Bill 77 to see if it can be done without creating a lot of problems. The committee took no action on the measure.


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