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Archive for Thursday, April 22, 2004

State ethics officials oppose reduced disclosure

April 22, 2004

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— Kansas ethics officials today voted unanimously to oppose a bill that would reduce public disclosure of the money spent by lobbyists on lawmakers to influence legislation.

"I can't see where this bill does any good for the people of the state of Kansas," said Daniel Sevart of Wichita, who is chairman of the Governmental Ethics Commission.

The bill was the product of House and Senate negotiations, and had been approved by the House but not the full Senate before the Legislature adjourned the first part of its legislative session.

Lawmakers will return for a wrap-up session on Wednesday.

The Ethics Commission voted to recommend that when the Legislature reconvenes it kill several portions of the bill that deal with lobbying.

Currently, lobbyists must report how much they spend on meals for lawmakers. But the proposed bill would allow lobbyists to spend up to $15 on a meal for a lawmaker and not have to report it.

Commissioner John Solbach of Lawrence said, "If this does pass, I'm going to open a restaurant in Topeka called the $14 lunch."

Another proposal in the legislation would allow lobbyists to not have to keep receipts on expenses on lawmakers from now back to 2000.

Commissioners said this proposal would prevent the commission from conducting any kind of investigation or audit should a questionable expense be brought to their attention.

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