Morrell Effort to Strengthen Legislative Accountability Heads to Governor's Desk

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

SACRAMENTO – Both houses of the legislature have voted to approve Assembly Bill 1620, principally coauthored by Senator Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga), which would further discourage the “revolving door” of legislators leaving office to take jobs as lobbyists.

“As elected officials, our duty is to protect the public who has entrusted us with representing their best interest, not ours,” said Morrell. “The current one-year ban on lobbying is not enough to build and maintain this trust. Under current law, a legislator can introduce a bill at the beginning of a session and then work for an outside party to influence votes on the same issue before the end of the same session, which is wrong. Californians should be confident that there is a sufficient cooling off period before former legislators can become lobbyists.”

Current law prohibits state legislators from lobbying the legislature for one year after leaving office. Morrell authored SB 679 earlier this session, which originally sought to increase that restriction to five years.

AB 1620 is a result of bipartisan discussions to extend these current revolving door restrictions on elected officials who depart from the legislature before the conclusion of their term. Under this bill, the ban would apply to the remainder of the two-year session in which a legislator resigns, at which point the current one-year cooling off period would begin.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 34 states have cooling-off periods, during which former legislators are prohibited from working at the legislatures as lobbyists. Eight states ban former legislators from lobbying the legislature for two years.

AB 1620 required a two-thirds vote and was approved with unanimous support.

Governor Brown has until October 15, 2017 to sign AB 1620 into law.

Senator Mike Morrell represents the 23rd Senate District in the California Legislature, which includes portions of San Bernardino, Riverside, and Los Angeles counties. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.