State News

House, Senate give final approval to ethics bills

Posted July 6, 2010 5:05 p.m. EDT
Updated July 6, 2010 5:52 p.m. EDT

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— The state House pushed an ethics and government reform bill through the chamber Tuesday, but not before pulling back on a longer "cooling-off" period before ex-lawmakers and former state officials can lobby the state government.

Meanwhile, the Senate approved its own set of reforms, creating the need for members of both chambers to get together and hash out differences before the General Assembly adjourns at the end of the week.

An amendment to the House bill reduced the amount of time elected officials must wait to lobby from one year after leaving office to the current limit of six months after their term in office ends. The House also agreed to another amendment that scales back what state employee personnel records are released.

Two other pending issues could come up for votes Wednesday:

House Democrats said a proposed ban on so-called sweepstakes cafes should go to a floor vote. The businesses sell blocks of time for people to gamble online or on cell phones.

The Senate overwhelmingly approved the ban last month.

A Senate committee is expected to vote on reforms to the state's liquor sales system. Ethical problems, from lavish dinners paid for by distillers to exorbitant salaries for county managers, have plagued the system in recent months.

Lawmakers also are still considering a bill that would allow law enforcement to collect DNA from anyone charged with a felony and ban drivers from using hand-held cell phones.