One Ethics Bill Clears Missouri Senate

(AP) – State senators on Wednesday gave initial approval to strengthening ethics laws in Missouri, the only state with the trio of unlimited campaign contributions, no limits on gifts from lobbyists and no restrictions against state lawmakers going into lobbying as soon as they leave public office.

The bill by Senate Majority Leader Ron Richard, a Joplin Republican, is the first ethics bill to gain approval in either chamber this session. It begins to deal with lobbyist gifts and the revolving door of employment after public service, but it does nothing to limit campaign contributions.

The legislation would increase public reporting on gifts to legislators, ban lawmakers from becoming lobbyists until at least two years after they leave office and ban out-of-state trips paid for by lobbyists.

The bill needs a second Senate vote to go to the House, which has been hearing public testimony on its own package of ethics proposals.

Bills to beef up ethics laws have been introduced with little success in previous sessions. But Republican and Democratic legislative leaders both have placed a higher priority on the proposals this year.

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