Senators held a lively debate Monday over whether they should report gifts from lobbyists totaling more than $250 a year per lobbyist.
No decision was made on a rule change suggested by Sen. Haven Barlow, R-Layton, who said during the debate "we'll have to change our habits, and lobbyists will have to change theirs also. We need more disclosure; the public expects it."A number of senators questioned how they'd go about making the report - would it include lunches provided for all senators during the session? No, replied Barlow; he'll amend the rule to exempt freebies offered the Legislature as a whole. Would they have to keep track of all individual expenses a lobbyist makes on them? Maybe, said Barlow, if the senator suspects the total will equal $250 by year's end.
A lobbyist reporting bill has passed the House. It would require a report showing the total amount a registered lobbyist spends on lawmakers and an individual accounting per lawmaker for any expense over $100 a year. Some senators are more disposed to having the lobbyists keep score than themselves.
Sen. Dix McMullin, R-South Jordan, said he and other leaders once took a trip to the north Alaska oil fields paid for by an oil company. He wondered how he'd figure the cost of such a trip - "one of the best training experiences I've had in the Legislature."
Senate President Arnold Christensen, R-Sandy, said at some conventions he's attended a lobbyist has rented a car and offered to take wives of senators to local shopping stores. "Would I have to report that?"
If the lobbyist spent, over a year, more than $250 on a senator and his immediate family, yes, said Barlow.