The revolving door between lobbyists and legislators may be harder to swing through if legislation passed unanimously by the Texas Senate on Wednesday makes it to the governor’s desk.
Senate Bill 13 by State Sen. Brandon Creighton (R–Conroe) implements several new ethics reforms, which the author says are “designed to ensure that elected officials represent their constituencies, not special interests or their own financial interest.”
Chief among these reforms is a prohibition on immediately working as a lobbyist after serving as an elected official. Instead, the bill implements a two year “cooling off” period, a provision which the Texas Senate has attempted to end in previous sessions but has previously been stalled in the Texas House.
“I congratulate Sen. Creighton and the Texas Senate on passing Senate Bill 13, the Ethics Reform Bill, and taking a principled stand against unethical practices in elected office,” said Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick following the bill’s passage. “Texans deserve to know their elected officials must adhere to a stringent ethics code and this important bill ensures lawmakers have a clear ethical standard.”
SB 13 was deemed a priority bill for Patrick earlier this year.
One major reform in the original bill, however, a prohibition on simultaneously serving as an elected official and as a lobbyist, was stripped by Creighton in a floor amendment after discussions with other senators. Current law does not bar lobbyists from serving in elected office.
Creighton vowed to “continue to work on this provision in an attempt to work on it at a later date.”
Additionally, the bill requires that personal financial statements be posted online. Currently the disclosure documents must be requested from the Texas Ethics Commission.
The bill will now be sent to the House, where a companion version has not been filed. Only weeks remain for the bill to be passed out of the other chamber if it is to make it to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk for a signature.