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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Party time!

The Indianapolis Star reports that legislators are coming back in grand style --

A "welcome back party" is being hosted Tuesday evening by the Bose Public Affairs Group, a top lobbying firm, preceded by a late-afternoon reception by the Government Affairs Society of Indiana, the lobbying group for lobbyists.

The receptions -- as well as any gifts, tickets and meals that legislators get during the sessions -- are perfectly legal. Under current Indiana law, legislators can take anything at all.
But at least two legislators -- Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, and Rep. John Day, D-Indianapolis -- say it's time for a change, and they're pursuing legislation to that end.
Under current law, lobbyists must report making a gift of $100 or more, but they don't have to reveal what the gift is, nor its full value.
-- then follows up with a next-day editorial urging more transparency:
There's no limit on the amount the $2-million-a-year lobbying industry can give a lawmaker, and reporting requirements are no more specific than "more than $100" or "more than $250." A $5,000 vacation trip would be simply "more than $250" -- and a $95 steak dinner, even with an encore every day of the session, is no business of the public whatsoever.
It's hard to disagree. We can't get the lobbyists out of state government anymore than we can get money out of political campaigns. But we can insist on full and complete disclosure so voters know who is beholden to whom. The editorial notes that Hoosier lawmakers have traditionally treated lobbying limits "as an insinuation against their integrity and independence." I've been around them long enough to know that that is generally how they feel. But such limits no more "insinuate" against their character than laws against bank-robbing smear the character of people who don't rob banks.