by Max Brantley
I count this as good news. Rep. Robbie Wills says he will make an effort in the House to strip an amendment from his Sen. Robert Thompson's bill requiring a one-year waiting period before legislators may become lobbyists. Since term limits, legislating has become a prep school for lobbyists.
It was amended in the Senate to exempt current members (update: IF they don't seek another term). Wills told me today that he will try to remove that amendment and make it apply to all those now serving.
The bill has been assigned to House Rules. It is chaired by Rep. David Dunn of Forrest City, executive director of the Forrest City Chamber of Commerce. The Forrest City Chamber of Commerce clearly has no real need for a lobbyist currently, with a man on the floor. But should Dunn's legislative time come to an end while still in that job (he's in his second House term), the amendment could prevent him from lobbying the legislature for the chamber. Will he vote against his economic interest? What will he ask others to do? Where does he stand on the bill? I have an e-mail out to him on the question.
UPDATE: Thanks to an assist from reader Dome Rat, I see I didn't read the legislation properly and wrote inaccurately in my initial post about applicability. The Senate amendment would preserve immediate lobbying rights for all current legislators as long as they don't seek another term. Those who are term limited are obvioius beneficiaries. But it would prevent immediate lobbying by any current legislators re-elected to subsequent terms. Dunn, for example, plans to run for a third term and, by running again after the effective date of this law, would be unable to lobby for a year after leaving the legislature if the bill passed in its current form
Dunn and Wills are both seeking the House speaker's job in 2009, by the way.
We hope the bill, with Wills' amendment to apply the measure to all, passes. Given the Arkansas legislature, it has to be figured a long shot. Call the roll. It's a good test of your lawmaker's integrity.