AUGUSTA —On Thursday, a bill sponsored by Sen. Justin Chenette, D-Saco, to reduce the revolving door of legislators from becoming lobbyists, has passed unanimously in the Maine State Legislature.
LD 76, “An Act to Strengthen the Integrity of the Legislature,” passed the Senate unanimously on Tuesday, and the House of Representatives followed suit on Thursday.
“We must limit the undue influence lobbyists have over our government, and nothing speaks to this issue more than lawmakers and lobbyists swapping roles,” says Sen. Chenette. “Closing this loophole will ensure former lawmakers will have to follow transparency and ethics rules and hopefully discourage them from getting a lucrative lobbying gig so soon after they leave elected office.”
Current law allows former legislators to immediately become lobbyists at the conclusion of their legislative service as long as it’s less than 8 hours a month. Moreover, they don’t have to register as a paid lobbyist. LD 76 would close this loophole by requiring a full year waiting period before any compensated lobbying could take place.
Back in 2017, the Maine Ethics Commission voted to recommend a similar solution to bar all lobbying by former legislators in the first year after their tenure ends. This bill is modeled on their suggestion.
“Questions of fair access may be exacerbated when some lobbyists have easier access to lawmakers than others, especially for revolving door lobbyists — those former legislators or executive branch officials who leave the government to go into the private sector and work to influence their former colleagues,” said Ann Luther, Advocacy Chair of the Maine League of Women Voters, which endorsed the proposal.
After a few procedural votes, the bill heads to the Governor’s desk for her signature to become law.
This bill is part of larger campaign finance reform package from Sen. Chenette. LD 256, “An Act To Ensure Responsible Operation of Political Action Committees,” was signed into law by the governor, and LD 54, “An Act To Limit the Influence of Lobbyists by Expanding the Prohibition on Accepting Political Contributions,” has received support in committee and is expected to come to the Senate floor for a vote.
Sen. Chenette is a member of the Senate Ethics Committee.