Thursday, February 9, 2017

Senate bans gov. agencies using lobbyists

Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves issued the following statement.


SENATE TO AGENCIES: DON’T USE TAXPAYER DOLLARS FOR LOBBYING

The Mississippi Senate voted today to prohibit state agencies from hiring contract lobbyists with taxpayer dollars.

Senate Bill 2632, by Sen. John Polk, R-Hattiesburg, bans state agencies, universities and community and junior colleges from spending public funds on contract lobbyists. The bill passed in a 38 –14 vote.

Preliminary estimates show at least $1 million currently is spent on contract lobbyists. However, the cost could be more as the data is reported differently among agency contracts.

“Agencies will have their own employees and contract lobbyists spend time at the Capitol to ask for bigger budgets,” Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said. “Meanwhile, some of these same agency directors complain that they don’t have enough money. The practice is an insult to taxpayers, and I thank Sen. Polk for this good government measure.”

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

One of the top 10 pieces of legislation for this year's session. Won't save a whole bunch of money, but philosophically and practically one of the most common sense bills - and would have never seen the light of day in the days of the Dem leadership.

Agencies -- nor universities --- nor community colleges need lobbyists. For that matter, cities and counties shouldn't need them either, but not sure the legislature can outlaw them. But for a state agency to spend money on a lobbyists to ask for new programs, more staff, and of course, more money is the definition of stupid. Its good gravy for the lobbyist fraternity, or at least some of them, but its a waste for the taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

We've got the biggest bunch of dumbasses over at the capitol. Do they realize this will cut into their gourmet dining and whiskey budget from the lobbyists?

Anonymous said...

Assuming the lobbying needs to be done, isn't it just as much of a waste to have a state employee working at the capitol instead of doing their job? Is a mental health professional or a prisons employee supposed to be a good lobbyist? Probably not, so will lobbyist just be paid staffers at state agencies? I think the problem is that we have a system where lobbyist are needed to get anything done at the Capitol - which points a problem with the Legislature's good ole boy M.O. more than a problem with state agencies hiring lobbyist.

I don't have a dog in the hunt either way and I wish we had a system where a regular person or state agency could be judged on the merits of their case and not by hiring the right lobbyist, but whose fault is it if that's not the system in place?

Anonymous said...

@ 3:42 lobbyists are a function of a part-time, unstaffed, poorly-paid Legislature. They always exist. But legislators really don't have many resources to search out issues outside of lobbyists. It leads to very little innovation.

Anonymous said...

This should also apply to PR people. They act as little more than campaign mouthpieces.

The lobbying limit should apply to local governments also. Some legislators have charged local governments money to get a meeting with him/her. This money flows through the lobbyist.

Anonymous said...

What about lobbyist who do not register because they do public relations not lobbying?

Well, we all know calling it public relations allows this little guy to get around registering.

Anonymous said...

4:06, you are correct about the part-time and unstaffed legislature. Not sure I agree with the poorly paid part. But lobbyists - either contract or agency staff - should be needed. The agency directors should be able to make the case for their functions, and any needed changes in their programs. The agency budget staff has to spend time with the legislators to define and detail their budgets and appropriation status.

This should apply to agency PR as well - they are lobbyists under a different name.

Anonymous said...

I hate to over-simplify this, but if an agency director and/or their staff don't have enough expertise to clearly articulate the agency's needs and/or effectively advocate for its mission and functions, then they are not qualified to hold that position. 'Memba when Santa Cruz got his ass handed to him in a budget hearing...

Y'herdz?

4:51 here with correction said...

Comment should have read -- should NOT be needed.

Steaks At Ticos At 7:45... said...

"...part-time, unstaffed, poorly-paid Legislature..."

That comment has got to be in the running for the most absurd post of the current and past four years combined.

These people are well compensated, meet twice as often as they should and have an excellent (self aggrandized) retirement system. Not only that, but they're all too damned lazy to study issues and take action - their favorite response to any situation being, "We don't expect to act on it this year but will probably take a look next session".

To suggest these people are underpaid, unstaffed and part time is beyond absurd.

Anonymous said...

I well remember, thirty years ago, when Employment Security had ten people walking the halls of the legislature advocating for this and that and not a damned one of them had a clue as to mission of the agency.

There also ought to be some control on all these people showing up over there on the taxpayers' dime.

Kingfish said...

This won't do much. Certain individuals will just continue to enjoy their glass of Port and call themselves "consultants" and continue to party on as if they were on St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans.

Anonymous said...

What's so sad is that, due to years of good ol' boy system. Now the Dixiecrats running the Mississippi GOP want to rid the legislature of the system they created - now that there are colored folks and women benefitting from that system.

So now they want to drain the swamp, at the detriment of the state functioning as a whole.

They want to penalize agencies for reclassing staff, giving them agency benchmark; but yet they approved realignment for administrative staff last year.

They want to ensure welfare fraud is not happening on the beneficiary end, but give providers a pass that are cooking the books.

Now all of a sudden they are outraged with lobbyist on the hill??? They've been there for years!

Wake up people, the Dixiecrat super-majority is spooning you again with no vaseline.

Anonymous said...

If state agencies could hire Capitol Resources or the Clay Firm, maybe they wouldn't be complaining about their budgets? Good news for taxpayers that these influence peddlers are limited to private sector. Imagine the outcry if one of them lobbied for an occupational licensing board?

Anonymous said...

@ 5:47, you can dispute "underpaid" but there is no debating "understaffed" or "part-time". Have you talked to a member of the Senate's policy staffer?
We'd be better off cutting the legislature by a third and spending the savings on policy staff for the ones that are left. Then you could have people paid to research bills all day.
Also, to get the retirement, they have to stay there for 25 years. I'd rather they not be there that long.

Anonymous said...

They need to ditch the "spokespeople / communication directors" from these budgets too. That includes Feel & Tater's mouthpieces. The headline in the press release is clearly for political purposes.

Anonymous said...

The one I don't get is public utilities. Why does the public service commission allow say the electric power company to take some of the money I pay them and buy an ad on TV telling me what a good company they are? What does the ad do? I can only buy power from them. How about no ads then take the money you save and cut the price I pay for power.
Some things in life are just too simple. (That's what Trump is saying right now.)

Anonymous said...

I hope what will happen is that agencies will designate someone to be a liaison to the legislature.
Unfortunately legislators will not make themselves available to agency heads and only hear them for a few minutes in a committee meeting if at all.
Legislators will show up for a fish fry though. At a fish fry, the career employees with expertise on the details of agency tasks won't be able to educate legislators and they don't educate themselves.
Add to this the bill that makes hiring and firing of career employees easier and there will be no one to speak truth to power and the public and no one who will survive the political power of the Governor and Lt Governor if they point out the flaws in their agendas.
This will , however, make the Governor more powerful and give special interest groups with the money to pay lobbyists ( and contribute to the Governor and Lt. Governor more powerful.
There will be no lobbying for the best interest of Mississippi as a whole.
This is simply one more nail in the coffin of both a two party system and thus democracy. You aren't going to like a one party system once they have complete systemic control. You think you will but it's not been the friend of liberty and freedom EVER.


Anonymous said...

Nobody is advocating a one party system, de facto or otherwise. Take your strawman (and you droning) over the Jackson Fake Press.

Charlie Ali said...

Consolidate the universities like the state departments if you REALLY are serious about expenditures. Combine the narcotics, investigation, emergency, and public safety departments into a single agency. 'Saving the taxpayer $$$' rhetoric will have the ring of truth then. Otherwise its campaign talk...

We Can Fool All Of The People All Of The Time.. said...

We bought them all new laptops and tablets. They can get a grandchild or 10 year old relative to teach them how to use search engines for research and information.

They've turned part time jobs into full time jobs at real decent pay with per diem and benefits.

None of them needs a secretarial staff member to keep them posted on what's going on in the world of state government or agencies or the needs of the people.

"You can call me Bill or you can call me Paul. Just don't call me lobbyist when you see me in the hall.

We'll still be seen at Ticos and Crechales will hold our table; You'll never have a dinner tab as long as I am able.

And when Christmas rolls around you can count on me - Nothing really changes, just you wait and see."

Anonymous said...

@9:27- the Clay Firm represents thr Board of Medical Licensure.

Anonymous said...

9:45 absolutely not true. One can draw at age 60 if they have 4 years or 8 years, depending on when they started in the retirement system.

Anonymous said...

Those of you suggesting a paid staff should consider the impact that has had in Austin and Tallahassee. Generally the same crowd wants term limits. That combo leads to incredibly powerful, unelected staffers having all of the procedural and institutional knowledge. That's a recipe for disaster.

Unfortunately, the cure is hard working legislators. We have some, but not nearly enough and not nearly in the right places.

Anonymous said...

11:10 Public Service Commission? Really? I don't think they can regulate anything except rates of utilities. And, from what I can remember from years ago, expenditures for that kind of stuff could not be put in the rate basis, and had to come out of operating profits of the utility. I could be wrong. But, I do agree that it is ridiculous for the monopoly utilities to spend so much money telling us how good they are.

Anonymous said...

KF - Can we get more about this from Weidie's blog? Does Bennie really still employ this guy>

Why didn’t a certain newspaper report that Avant is spending his weekends in prison while he is still Bennie Thompson’s chief of staff?

Now, you may ask why isn’t the fact Avant is serving weekends in jail and is still Thompson’s chief of staff not been published in the state’s largest newspaper? The Clarion-Ledger had a report when Avant was charged with the crime and later reported

that he pled guilty. Nothing about the fact he spends his weekends in jail while still serving as Thompson’s chief of staff. The obvious answer to that is Sam Hall, the executive editor of the newspaper. If the chiefs of staff for Senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker or Mississippi’s three Republican congressman were sentenced to prison on federal charges while serving part of their sentence on weekends and were still serving as chief of staff for one of those Republicans, it would certainly be big news in the Clarion-Ledger, coupled with a touch of editorial outrage by the newspaper. Oh well, maybe Hall and Clarion-Ledger columnist Gary Pettus will end their hypocrisy and join the protest march with Bernie and Bennie. Of course, as a state employee at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Pettus would have to request some vacation time except for the fact the march will take place on a Saturday.

Anonymous said...

8:38...don't be too hard on the ignorant. You can bet 9:45 is not in the legislature though, as each member knows precisely when he can draw and how much and which money will count in the formula.

Anonymous said...

If the Governor wants to be in control of the "State brand", he should throttle thru a 'commission of advertising' that is composed of the likely future chief executives like the Secretary of State, Speaker, and President of the Senate. They could parcel out the lobbying and advertising contracts themselves.

Anonymous said...

Problem is lobbyists and special interest groups are the only ones legislators listen to. Outlaw all lobbyists!

Anonymous said...

7:07am Of course, no one is advocating a one party system. It would be stupid for those seeking power to actually reveal their agenda.
But the " one party" of " take no prisoners " and " destroy the opposition" is doing everything it can to consolidate their power at every level of government and make any other party powerless. They do this by changing the system in sentences in bills and power grabs they characterize as benign.
They will control all branches of government and put their party members in decision making positions, destroy the credibility of any opposition and persuade with propaganda that only they can be trusted to fix problems and they can do no wrong.
The media, experts of any kind, the judicial system, any opposition to the alt right agenda are not to be trusted are they? No one is to be trusted but those who support one political point of view.
This is the playbook for tyrants throughout history. It's just easier now because spreading propaganda is easier now. The Big Lie works better.
Do you really think the Germans thought they'd end up with what the Nazis did? Do you think the peasants in Russia thought Marxism would get them Stalin? Did those in the Soviet Union who wanted to end communism think they'd end up with Putin and his oligarchs threatening all those who broke free? Did the Libyans or Syrians who wanted freedom from dictatorship expect a failed state in civil war?
Did Hitler and Stalin tell themselves that only they were smart enough and strong enough to make their nations great? Putin certainly believes he is the only one to restore Russia to it's greatness.
Consequences...it's about consequences and learning from history. It's not the great battles you should have focused on but why the great battles had to be fought! Mankind's fatal flaws again leading to disaster.
But, you will rationalize and read only that which supports what you want to believe and not imagine for one second that some of the laws that are being altered were in place to protect your freedom . You will rationalize that individual freedom is just for the deserving like you until you are not among the deserving unless you goose step.

Anonymous said...

You need to quit smoking so much dope @8:27 AM. Your paranoia is off the charts. Seek some professional help if you can't quit on your own.

Anonymous said...

9:32 am Yet another feeble attempt to attack the messenger instead of the message. Aside from never having done drugs, I would suggest if you want to know what paranoia looks like, you should have been reading Bannon's Breitbart . Bannon is brilliant but his writings and personal life ought to give you pause for concern . Terrified ex wives who didn't even want money are a big hint.

Hell , I don't even believe in the conspiracy theories you likely hold dear like the Clintons murdering 40 people. And, I don't think " millions of people voted illegally".

I do believe in facts and that past behaviors are good predictors of future behaviors. I believe that people who seek power with differing end agendas can join forces when their strategies, if not their goals. align. And, I do bother to try to determine which politicians of any persuasion are lying and ask " why would they need to do that? "

The bottom line is that what I describe is not my notion of how democracies or states fail. It is based on research and writings of those who studied how dictators rose to power and democracies failed. It's based on the historical facts of what common strategies tyrants have actually have used in their rise to power. It's based on understanding the importance of the rule of law, of a free press, of the balance of power and an informed citizenry. And, it's based on some notion of what good government and " golden ages" in history have in common.

If a society waits until power is consolidated , it's too late. Even in Shakespeare's time some dangers were understood. His characters who said, " First , we kill all the lawyers" were planning anarchy.

When one party will shortly hold power of all three branches of government at the federal and in many state and when that party attacks the credibility of those within their own party who will not march in lock step with the executive branch, you should worry.
When several states start passing bills that are nearly identical in writing within days of one another you ought to be worried. It's not unusual for legislators to copy language of bills that are successful in another state. But, to simultaneously come up with new bills that dramatically change long existing state laws with nearly identical language in all the TP leaning states is something that is new and different. And, then when it follows an executive effort at the federal level to make hiring and firing easier as well? Don't you know about the bad history of patronage and government corruption in this country before the civil service protections?





Head Doctor said...

In my professional opinion, I have to agree that 10:17/8:27 is off the charts as relates to giant conspiracy theories, which translates to extreme and senseless paranoia which typically translates to the use of either chemical substances or endless hours spent watching Maddow or loop-play reruns of the Democrat National Convention.

GOTT-ALMIGHTY-ABOVE please help people like that before their heads explode.

Anonymous said...

Can someone please explain to all what the difference is between a lobbyist and a consultant? Blurred lines if you ask me.

Anonymous said...

Lobbyists for state agencies is a bad idea and needs to be eliminate d. As well as for all these boards and commissions.

But check out the elected officials. Why should an elected official need a lobbyist? Why can't that official him/herself talk to legislators about their department. They have staff - many of whom are registered as lobbyits because they do just this - work with the legislature over their responsibilities.

But some seem to think they deserve to hire a contract lobbyist as well - guess those officials can't do their own job.

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