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Assembly advances cooling-off bill for Nevada legislators

CARSON CITY — A bill that would impose a cooling-off period for state lawmakers who want to become paid contract lobbyists at the Legislature won unanimous approval in the Assembly on Tuesday and now heads to the Senate.

Assembly Bill 273 would prohibit a lawmaker who left office in November of an election year from working as a lobbyist, with some exceptions, until the date of adjournment of the next regular session of the Legislature.

The bill is sponsored by Assemblyman Pat Hickey, R-Reno, who unsuccessfully sought a similar measure in the 2013 session.

The measure would not take effect until November 2016 and so would not affect those currently serving in the Legislature.

Hickey said in previous testimony on the bill that no incident prompted his legislation.

“There is no scandal to speak of now in Nevada,” he said. “However I am here to argue before you that it is still the right thing to do.”

Hickey said the revolving door raises ethical questions, such as whether a lawmaker who was planning to become a lobbyist at the next legislative session might be influenced to vote a particular way on a bill that was favored or opposed by a potential future client.

Hickey said 33 other states have similar cooling-off provisions to stop the revolving door situation where a lawmaker who retires from office or who fails to win re-election immediately goes to work in the Legislature as a lobbyist.

There would be exceptions in cases where a lawmaker went to work for an entity, say a county, and acted as a lobbyist for that local government, Hickey said. But professional contract lobbyists, who frequently serve a long list of clients, would be covered by the one-session prohibition, he said.

His 2013 bill saw near unanimous support in the Assembly but did not get out of the Senate Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections.

Contact Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900. Find him on Twitter: @seanw801.

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