• Twitter
  • Facebook
News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Sand-filled noses, out of joint

Twenty-six states have passed legislation requiring one- or two-year cooling-off periods for legislators wanting to leave office and become lobbyists. Gov. Mitch Daniels has instituted such a policy for members of the executive branch. It is a rather modest reform. But our thin-skinned legislators are having none of it:

State Sen. Patricia Miller started this legislative session with hopes of killing any perception that legislators are using their public jobs to win more lucrative positions as lobbyists.
The Indianapolis Republican's fellow lawmakers, however, were so offended by that perception that they killed her bill.
Senate Bill 165, which died after a contentious Senate hearing this month without getting a vote, would have required legislators to wait one year after leaving office before lobbying the Indiana General Assembly.
The decision to kill it left Julia Vaughn, policy director of Common Cause/Indiana, which lobbies for government reforms, incredulous.
"If it's news to them that the public perception of the legislature is less than great, oh my God," she said. "How out of touch can they really be?"
Sen. Marvin Riegsecker, the Goshen Republican who controlled the bill's fate as chairman of the Senate Public Policy Committee, said he killed the proposal because he and other senators were angered by comments that "we're taking money under the table. That's the interpretation we had."
"Out of touch" is the predictable result of sticking one's head in the sand. The irony is that those pushing for the reform have always been careful to talk about the "perception of impropriety" rather than accusing legislators of it. This temper tantrum will, of course, only add to the perception among some that legislators are up to no good.