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New bill would create “cooling off” period before lawmakers can become lobbyists

Pkay Chelle

A new bill in the state Senate would require former lawmakers to wait at least two years after leaving office before they can begin working as lobbyists.

The bill would create a two year “cooling off” period for lawmakers who want to become lobbyists, with a three year waiting period for lawmakers who served as committee chairs.

Republican State Senator Jim Runestad introduced the legislation. He said the bill would remove any appearance that lawmakers might be passing or blocking legislation in the hopes of securing a lobbying job.

“I certainly can’t think of an example of somebody holding up a bill or fast-tracking a bill to become a lobbyist but that is a concern that people could certainly have.”

Runestad said one of his goals is to make sure lobbyists are not trying to influence their former colleagues.

“When you step out of office and then two days later you are back in a lobbying job and now going back and contacting people you served within the last term you’d have an awful lot of power.”

Runestad said Michigan’s short term limits ensure that every two years, roughly one-third of the state house is brand new. That means under his bill, there would be fewer people a lawmaker turned lobbyist would already know in state government.

Runestad introduced similar legislation while he served in the House. He said he’s hopeful he will be able to get the legislation passed this time around.