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Legislative ‘cooling off’ lobbying law passes Nevada Senate

CARSON CITY — The Nevada Senate gave final legislative approval Wednesday to slow down the revolving door between politics and lobbying.

Assembly Bill 273 was approved 21-0 and now goes to Gov. Brian Sandoval, who is expected to sign it. The bill earlier won unanimous support in the Assembly.

The bill requires a lawmaker who leaves office to skip one legislative session before returning to the Legislature as a paid lobbyist.

There are exceptions for lawmakers who go to work for a business or local government and are required to lobby as part of their job duties. However, it would prevent former legislators from returning as a contract lobbyist representing multiple clients for compensation.

It does not take effect until Nov. 8, 2016, so it would not apply to current lawmakers serving in this session.

Assemblyman Pat Hickey, R-Reno, was the main sponsor of the bill. In committee testimony earlier this session, Hickey said no specific incident or scandal prompted the measure, rather it was just “the right thing to do.”

He said the revolving door where lawmakers return to lobby their former colleagues raises ethical questions and feeds public suspicion.

About 36 states have similar cooling off periods.

Former lawmakers who work as lobbyists are a common sight in the hallways of the Legislative Building.

Hickey said he is not criticizing the lobbying profession, and characterized his measure as good “open government” policy.

Hickey proposed a similar measure in 2013. It passed the Assembly on a 40-1 vote but did not see action in the Senate Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections. Previous efforts to establish a cooling-off period all failed.

Contact Sandra Chereb at schereb@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3901. Find her on Twitter: @SandraChereb.

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