The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


January 17, 2014

Our View: Time for real reform

— No more free lunches — literally. And no more trips, tickets to sporting events or nights out on the town.

That’s how things will be if a bill, presented on Tuesday in the Missouri House of Representatives by Rep. Kevin McManus, D-Kansas City, and Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, is passed.

Other bills have been filed by Republican Sens. John Lamping, of Ladue, and Scott Rupp, of Wentzville, as well as Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis. They too would effectively reform ethics and campaign-finance laws. We applaud the bipartisan efforts to set some standards in our state.

McManus’ bill bans lobbyists from giving legislators meals, trips and gifts. It also requires lawmakers to wait three years after leaving office before they can work as lobbyists.

Under the bill, donors would be allowed to give $2,600 to candidates for statewide office, $1,000 to candidates for state Senate and $500 to House candidates. The bill also carries fines for those who try to circumvent the law.

Missouri currently has no limit on the price of gifts that politicians can receive from lobbyists, nor does the state have limits on the number of dollars candidates can receive in the form of campaign contributions. And there is currently no waiting period for lawmakers who leave office to become lobbyists.

We’re not saying all of Missouri’s state leaders take advantage of this arrangement, but under the current set of laws — or lack of laws — it’s pay to play in our state.

If we are going to reform ethics and campaign-finance laws, then let’s make the reform real.

No more free lunches, and no more government that’s bought and paid for by special-interest groups.

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A new provision by the U.S. Department of Agriculture allows qualifying districts with high percentages of students on food assistance to allow all students to eat free breakfasts and lunches. Would you agree with this provision?

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