AUGUSTA — Legislation sponsored by Sen. Justin Chenette to end the revolving door of lawmakers becoming lobbyists became law after Governor Janet Mills signed the measure.
LD 76, “An Act To Strengthen the Integrity of the Legislature,” bans legislators from any compensated lobbying for a full year after their legislative service ends.
The bill passed both the Senate and House of Representatives unanimously last year.
“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 ensures 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 had allowed former legislators to immediately become lobbyists at the conclusion of their legislative service as long as it’s less than 8 hours a month. LD 76 closed this loophole by requiring a full year waiting period before any compensated lobbying could take place. The AP ran a story highlighting the issue here.
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.
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 since become law without the Governor’s signature.
Sen. Chenette is Chair of the Governor Oversight Committee and is a member of the Senate Ethics Committee