Sacramento – Senator Andy Vidak (R-Hanford) announced today that he has introduced Senate Bill 976, which would extend the one-year lobbying ban for ex-lawmakers to at least two years and potentially up to four years.
Currently, California legislators are allowed to begin lobbying one-year after they leave office. SB 976 would bar ex-legislators from lobbying their former colleagues and the governor until the end of the next legislative session that begins after the legislator leaves office.
“The longer lobbying ban will discourage legislators from leaving office in the middle of their term to take a lucrative ‘government affairs’ job, which often quickly leads to a lucrative lobbying career,” said Vidak. “Special elections to replace legislators that abandon their seats for the corporate world wind up costing county taxpayers millions of dollars – money that would be better spent on critical local programs such as public safety, transportation or health.”
Since the passage of term limits for legislators and statewide office holders in 1990, 58 special elections have had to be held to replace members of the Legislature who have resigned their office in the middle of their term. While a vast majority of these former members left to assume higher office, a number have resigned their office to take government affairs positions with big business. Sometimes ex-lawmakers in these government affairs positions direct others who are lobbying their former colleagues.
According to the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL), 33 states currently have some type of lobbying ban on former legislators. Eleven states currently ban former members from lobbying for two years after leaving the Legislature, and two states (Maryland and Oregon) require that former members wait until the conclusion of the next legislative session before they can engage in lobbying activities.
SB 976 would also extend the time period for which former elected statewide officers (Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Treasurer, Controller, Insurance Commissioner, Superintendent of Public Instruction and Board of Equalization members) are barred from lobbying a state administrative agency, or any state officer, from one year to two years after the final date of the term to which the officer was elected.