by Max Brantley
David Couch, a lawyer active in the Regnat Populus ethics reform movement, e-mails me to say that HJR 1009, given up for dead at the first of the week, has been reborn. It came this morning out of the joint committee that sends constitutional amendments to the ballot every two years. Already approved once in the House, this probably means it's now headed for Senate approval, too.
This is the combination measure that incorporates a few ethics proposals — a ban on lobby gifts (except group banquets and travel junkets) to legislators and prohibits corporate campaign contributions to individual campaign accounts but not PACs — with a mechanism to raise legislative pay through a legislatively controlled commission that wouldn't require a politically difficult legislative vote and to extend term limits to a 16-year stint in either House or Senate.
I've said before that the ethics measures seem insufficient recompense for protected dining and junkets, pay raises and longer tenures, but I do think efforts were made to tighten the proposal in the course of a long process. Term limits advocates have vowed to fight it tooth and nail.
More bad news: Couch also e-mails me that SJR 16, the amendment meant to cripple grassroots petition campaigns — think medical marijuana, ethics, casinos, gas severance taxes — also won committee approval this morning.
Sounds like we have a lineup: 1) an amendment to strip executive power from agencies and transfer it to the legislature; 2) a legislative junkets/legislative pay raise/term limits repealer; 3) an anti-people, pro-corporate-interest anti-petition amendment.