State employees who lobby the Legislature on behalf of public universities in Idaho used to register as lobbyists and report their spending, but they stopped several years ago, determining that they weren’t required to do so as state employees. Under new legislation proposed by Secretary of State Lawerence Denney today, the universities would have to report that spending if they don’t choose to have their lobbyists register. The new law would cover “any office or department of state government or a state funded educational institution that offers gifts of any kind through interaction with the legislative or executive branch of state government.”
“This proposed legislation would clarify just who has to report, and it basically levels the playing field,” Chief Deputy Secretary of State Tim Hurst told the House State Affairs Committee. “When you look around the Capitol on any given day, you’ll see almost as many people wearing red tags as people wearing green tags.” In the Capitol’s color-coded name badge system, red tags signify state agency representatives; green tags are for lobbyists.
If an agency spends money on lobbying lawmakers or state agencies – say, giving away free football tickets or trips to a bowl game, or taking a lawmaker out to lunch – “This legislation requires you to report that, so the people know where the money’s being spent,” Hurst said. “It’s very simple.”
The committee voted unanimously to introduce the bill, clearing the way for a hearing.