On Thursday the Indiana Senate unanimously voted to move forward a comprehensive ethics reform bill affecting the General Assembly and the state executive branch. House Bill 1001 will now go to a conference committee where differences between the House and Senate versions will be reconciled. The bill, which has received bipartisan support this year, is expected to receive approval by both chambers then go to the governor for his signature or veto.
Senate Democrat Leader Vi Simpson said the bill is a “bipartisan and bicameral effort.”
Restrictions on legislative lobbying
The bill addresses several issues related to lobbying in the General Assembly, including barring lawmakers from becoming lobbyists for one year after they leave office.
The bill would also reduce the amount of a single gift or expenditure for a legislator that must be reported by a lobbyist from $100 to $50. The calendar year threshold of gifts or expenditures that must be reported would also be reduced from $500 to $250. The bill makes further clarifications for lobbyist expense reporting and increases fines for failure to file the reports on time.
University representatives advocating before the General Assembly would be required to register as lobbyists.
The rules on reporting and avoiding conflicts of interest by lobbyists representing more than one of clients are also clarified in the bill.
Restrictions on state officials
Elected state officials and candidates for state office, including the governor and gubernatorial candidates, would be prohibited from fundraising during the budget-making sessions (on odd-numbered years) of the General Assembly and during the day before, the day of, and the day after each legislative Organization Day.
A new provision added by the Senate would prohibit statewide elected officials from using state appropriated funds for advertisements that use the official’s name or likeness. Exceptions were allowed for the governor making announcements concerning public health or safety. State elected officials could also seek approval for state funded ads if they have a “compelling public policy reason.”
One of the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill to be negotiated next week is the “pay-to-play” provision, which would prohibit vendors holding or seeking state contracts worth $100,000 or more from donating to the campaigns of candidates seeking state office.