Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Spfld Reps Get Behind Lobbying Bill Aimed At Courts

A trio of Springfield lawmakers are backing largely symbolic late-session legislation squarely aimed at banning the state court system from lobbying with public money.
This late in the session, House Bill 1188 is unlikely to pass by itself, but Better Courts for Missouri Executive Director James Harris acknowledges its best hope may be getting it "added as an amendment to another bill."
Willard Rep. Shane Schoeller is the sponsor, with Springfield Reps. Eric Burlison and Charlie Denison signing on as co-sponsors.
The bill would prohibit the Supreme Court from using money to pay for lobbyists with taxpayer money. Lobbyists who violate the law would be prohibited from registering as a legislative lobbyist for up to two years.
"It is time that the supreme court stop abusing taxpayer monies and end their practice of utilizing taxpayer funded lobbyists to oppose legislation that would benefit the Missouri’s citizens," said Harris, whose Sunshine requests of the court have been rebuffed. "It is outrageous that the supreme court believes it does not have to comply with open records law, but then finds it appropriate to use taxpayer dollars to lobby against the very taxpayers who foot the bill for these lobbying efforts” added Harris.

The Court has said Harris' request for personal records of judges do not fall under the Sunshine Law's purview. The Supreme Court clerk told The Columbia Missourian: "I don't think Mr. Harris totally understands the law, or the constitution for that matter." Clerk Thomas Simon added: "He pushes an agenda, and he pushes an interpretation of the law."

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