Bill seeks to slow revolving door between state government and business

Posted April 14, 2015

— The revolving door between state government and private-sector contractors would be slowed under a bill the Senate State and Local Government Committee passed Tuesday.

"This is an issue we dealt with specifically in Health and Human Services," said Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell. "We had someone ... who had negotiated a very large contract, the day after signing the contract left the department and went to work for that vendor. That brings into question what was negotiated in the contract."

Hise was referring to the case of Paul Guthery, who had been a DHHS manager overseeing the development of what was then a trouble-plagued Medicaid payment system. That system was recently "certified" as operating as it should by the federal government.

Hise's bill would not stop a former state employee from working for a company at all. Instead it creates a six-month cooling off period for state employees who once oversaw or negotiated a state contract with a particular vendor or oversaw state-issued licenses held by that vendor. During those six months, the company would not be allowed to have the former state employee work on state business.

The interval is consistent with the six-month cooling off period former lawmakers must wait before returning to lobby their former colleagues.

"This is one those (laws) you wonder why it hasn't been done before," said Sen. Jim Davis, R-Macon.

But not every member of the committee was sold on the idea.

"After 30 year in the defense industry where this cake walk is done a lot, I'm not sure this kind of law is going to be effective," said Sen. Ronald Rabin, R-Harnett. "It makes you feel good...It's not going to prevent the crossover from happening."

Hise acknowledged that it would not prevent all situations, but the six-month period would get rid of the "immediate gratification" of such a move.

The measure is next due to be heard by the full Senate.

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  • Matt Wood Apr 14, 2015
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    This bill does not go far enough. I believe lawmakers and state employees should not be able to accept jobs with (or gifts from - including campaign contributions) companies they negotiated contracts with until such contracts have all expired.