When Missouri voters approved Amendment 1 last November, it made one of the most significant changes ever in politics in Jefferson City. Amendment 1 had a provision that limited lobbyists’ gifts to members of the General Assembly to $5.
That cut lobbyists’ gifts to lawmakers by 94 percent this year.
An analysis of state data shows that lobbyists spent less than $17,000 on lawmakers this year compared to about $300,000 during last year’s session of the Legislature.
A political science professor at the University of Missouri, Peverill Squire, told the Associated Press that financial gifts or benefits directed to lawmakers don’t buy their votes “but they do buy access. That access is important because lawmakers have to decide how they are going to spend their time and what energy they want to devote to different topics.”
Now, according to Squire, most of the spending is on larger events that all lawmakers can attend, but there still is a $5 limit per lawmaker for those events.
Gone are the days when lawmakers can be provided tickets to all kinds of events, from the Daytona 500, to rock concerts, to college football and basketball games, to the Masters golf tournament. A lobbyist said voters had a feeling it was out of control and it was “the Wild West.”
More than 60 percent of the voters last November approved Amendment 1, promoted by Clean Missouri. Sean Soendker Nicholson, campaign director for Clean Missouri, said lobbyists’ spending was a bipartisan issue. “Voters left, right and center were all disgusted with the problem that was in Jefferson City.”
Kelly Gillespie, a lobbyist, said Amendment 1 prohibits spending on educational tours to educate lawmakers on important issues and legislation. But he understands why voters gave strong support to Amendment 1.
In this past session, lawmakers tried to amend Amendment 1, but failed. It is expected that in future sessions efforts will be made to weaken Amendment 1.
The Clean Missouri amendment is of great significance because it did clean up the buying of influence, and other unclean practices that had been going on in Jefferson City for a long time.
The voters listened to the Clean Missouri message and acted.