Senate Passes Morrell Bill to Increase Legislative Accountability

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

SACRAMENTO – This week, the California State Senate voted to approve Senate Bill 679 by Senator Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga), which would take a step toward further discouraging the revolving door of legislators resigning office and becoming lobbyists.

“As public trust of elected officials has eroded, it has become more apparent that the legislature needs to take steps to increase confidence in representative government,” said Morrell. “While the current one-year lobbying ban provides a buffer, it still leaves open the possibility that a legislator who resigns from office could introduce a bill at the beginning of a session and work for an outside party to influence votes before the end of the same session and that is simply wrong. Californians should be assured that a legislator cannot lobby on a bill that was introduced while he or she was in office.”

Under current law, state legislators are prohibited from lobbying the legislature for one year after leaving office. SB 679 originally sought to increase that restriction to five years. It was amended in the Senate Committee on Elections and Constitutional Amendments to increase the limit to two years and apply only to legislators who resign from office.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 34 states have cooling-off periods, during which former legislators are prohibited from working at the legislatures as lobbyists. Eight states ban former legislators from lobbying the legislature for two years.

“I continue to believe that a longer lobbying ban is appropriate across the board when a legislator leaves office,” continued Morrell. “However, the amended version of SB 679 still represents a significant change that works toward reducing the revolving door.”

SB 679 required a two-thirds vote and was approved in the Senate on a bipartisan vote of 38-0.

It will next be considered in the State Assembly.