Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Brian Schweitzer way ahead on the reform curve

Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer was attempting reform before reform was 'cool' or polled as voter attractive. He has been doing so because it is the right thing to do.

Now, he is taking it to the people.

Please take note Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.

Don't bother alerting the Republican congressional leadership to Schweitzer's move--they are too busy erecting their facade and can't be bothered with the real thing:
Gov proposes bill to close revolving door
IR State Bureau

HELENA - Rebuffed by the 2005 Legislature, Gov. Brian Schweitzer said Monday he will take a ballot measure directly to the voters this year to prevent legislators, other elected officials and their directors and staffs from becoming lobbyists for two years after leaving office.

Schweitzer submitted a draft of his initiative to the Legislative Service Division for review. Once the proposal is approved by state agencies, Schweitzer said he will rely on volunteers to gather the 22,308 signatures of registered voters needed to put it on the November ballot.

"What this one will do, it will absolutely pour cement in the revolving door," Schweitzer said in an interview.

It would apply to legislators, elected officials, including governor, department directors, appointed state officials and members of the personal staff of any elected officials.

"This affects me more than anybody else," Schweitzer said. "This is closing a door on myself, moi. There is no out for me. This is clear that this means that I have closed the door on me working for special interests. You look at former governors. Where do they go work?"

Schweitzer had been looking at a more ambitious ballot measure that would include requiring more detailed disclosure of lobbyist spending, including reporting how much a particular lobbyist spent to take a certain legislator to lunch and where. But he said he worried that if an initiative becomes to "all-encompassing," a court might throw it out.

In his State of the State address in January 2005, Schweitzer first called for putting higher barriers before former elected officials could join the ranks of lobbyists. His proposal came a year before the ongoing congressional debate over lobbying and its abuses.

Although Schweitzer's bill died in a House committee last year, he vowed to take his case to voters with an initiative. Schweitzer is confident Montanan voters will strongly support the measure.

"I think this will send a clear signal to the Legislature that enough is enough," Schweitzer said. "It's time to clean up our act."

Then Schweitzer said he will present a bill to the 2007 Legislature requiring more detailed reporting of how lobbyists actually spend money trying to influence specific elected officials through lunches, dinners, trips, jackets and other gifts and requiring more frequent reporting.
To read the rest, go here.


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