The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Editorials

December 8, 2013

Gift ban change unfair

Why it matters:While easing the overly-restrictive law is good, it not only falls short but opens a crack that only large firm lobbyists can squeeze through.

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Unless we have a great fear that legislators we elect are more prone to influence than others in the nation, we should be looking to open up access rather than limit it. In Michigan, for instance, the exception is for “A breakfast, luncheon, dinner, or other refreshment consisting of food and beverage provided for immediate consumption.”

Indiana has opted for full disclosure rather than restrictions making lobbyists detail to the state the description of the gift, its value and who received it — including meals and drink.

Many states just peg a dollar amount ranging from $10 a month to $300 a year with restrictions.

Clearly, this easing of the restriction in Minnesota will have the opposite effect of curbing influence from powerful lobbyists. We need a complete review of our gift ban that has some common sense behind it.

If a legislator can be bought for a chicken sandwich and a coffee, we either have really crooked legislators or we don’t pay them enough.

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