Language of lobbyist bill in question

HB345, a bill that was passed in the 2009 Utah Legislative session, prevents former Utah Lawmakers from returning t othe Legislator as paid lobbyists for one year.

Well, sort of.

Turns out that the Utah Lt. Governor’s office has interpreted the language of the bill in such a way that allows former lawmakers to still be able to return on behalf of him/herselfor a business with which he/she is associated, unless the “primary activity” of the business is lobbying or governmental relations.

This loophhole has bill sponors and advocates up in arms.

 

“I hope that this sends a signal to those legislators who are lobbying in 2009 and sat on this floor last year,”  Rep. Christine Johnson (D-SLC) told fellow House members in February, “that they understand that it’s the will of the Legislature and the will of the people to have a cooling off period.” The bill’s primary sponsor, Rep. Brad Dee, R-Washington Terrace, doesn’t believe the bill is fatally flawed. He’s surprised at how the Lt. Governor’s Office interpreted the bill and said he plans to discuss it with Herbert.

“If I need to tighten the language, I’ll do it. I’m passionate about it,” Dee said. “It wasn’t a feel-good bill — it had some teeth in it and got it done.”

Sen. Greg Bell, R-Fruit Heights, sponsored HB345 on its rough ride through the Senate.”I tried to make it crystal clear that what was prohibited was the garden variety contract lobbyist,” Bell said, “those guys in the hall who are there for three different businesses.”

Quotes from Salt Lake Tribune article

Amazingly, 71 or 75 Utah House members signed on HB345, which leaves me wondering if this loophole glared out at some who chose to keep silent while the bill got passed.

I anticipate this issue taking on a legal challenge.

(Cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)

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