85(R) - 2017
Senate State Affairs
Senate State Affairs
General Investigating & Ethics
Vote Yes; Amend
Relating to the ethics of public officers and related requirements; creating criminal offenses.
From the Legislative Budget Board: No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
SB 14 would amend the Government Code to add that a member of a public retirement system would not be eligible to receive a service retirement annuity if the member is convicted of a felony while in office. If a member of the legislature, the governor, or a state elected official is convicted of a felony the office would be vacated on the day the conviction becomes final. These provisions would only apply to offenses committed after the date of enactment of this legislation.
Next, if a contract exceeds $10,000 the following must be reported: the name of each party in the contract for the sale of $2,500 or more, and if the individual, the individual’s family, or business entity if they have at least 50% interest with a governmental entity or a person who contracts with the governmental entity. Also if a member of the legislature provides bond counsel services the information on the name and date of the issuance, the amount, and the amount of fees must be reported. Finally, any compensation for legal referrals must be reported.
If a lobbyist or person on their behalf makes expenditures that exceed $50 for a gift or 30% of the amount of the legislative per diem in a day for transportation, lodging, or food and drinks for a member of the legislative or executive branch or an immediate family member, the lobbyist must file a report with the name of the member, the place and date, and the purpose.
The Election Code would be amended to add that for a candidate to be eligible for public office that person must not be required to register as a lobbyist. This provision would not apply to an official of a political subdivision with a population of 150,000 or less other than the presiding officer of the governing body of the subdivision, or the office of the presiding officer of the governing body of a political subdivision with a population of 50,000 or less. A member of Congress, a member of the legislature, or a holder of a statewide office would also be prohibited from registering as a lobbyist.
Finally, a former member of the legislature would not be permitted to engage in activities that require registration as a lobbyist before the end of the legislative cycle following the legislative cycle in which the former member last served. An offense would be a Class A misdemeanor.
Vote Recommendation Notes
This bill enhances our personal responsibility and limited government principles by adding provisions to hold our elected officials and former elected officials to a higher standard of accountability and to prevent influence peddling.
We are concerned about the provision which prevents people whose work requires them to register as lobbyists from running for office. We agree that elected officials should not be lobbyists. However, this provision prevents a person who is not yet an elected official from being eligible to run for office if they are a registered lobbyist. This is problematic in its own right as it discriminates against people running for office based on their profession. It is even worse when considered against that fact that requirements to register as a lobbyist are very broad and include people who do not lobby in the traditional sense of working to secure legislators' votes on behalf of clients who have business before the legislature. An amendment to strip this provision from SB 14 would make the bill stronger.