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Monday, December 27, 2010 - 11:08am

New Ethics Law To Take Effect

The next legislative session is a couple weeks away, but a law affecting lobbyists goes into effect January 1st. Some say it doesn’t go far enough.

The ethics law charges lobbyists a $300 registration fee each session and makes them report more frequently how much they’re spending on lawmakers.

But representative Wendell Willard who sits on the House Ethics Committee says the state should cap how much lobbyists can spend at $100.

"We’re one of few states that do not have some type of limit on contributions or gifts by public groups to elected officials," says Willard.

Willard wants to strengthen the law this year to also make it so executive branch officials like the governor would have to wait a year before taking a lobbying job.

"We put a limit several years back that legislators leaving office could not do this without having a one year waiting period and I think it’s appropriate to have this same limitation for those serving in the executive branch," says Willard.

Another change to the law effective January puts the state’s ethics commission in charge of overseeing campaign contributions in all elections. That agency has said with budget cuts it doesn’t have the money to do so. Willard says he’ll work on getting the new lobbyist fee directed there.