The state House voted Thursday to require more reporting by local governments of what they spend lobbying lawmakers. But House Lawmakers refused to force disclosure of who pays for trips they get from certain special interest groups.
The legislation expands what kind of lobbying expenses cities, counties, state agencies and universities have to publicly report. Rep. Steve Farley sought to alter the bill to also require lawmakers to detail what companies are paying into a fund that lets them attend meetings of the American Legislative Exchange Council, an organization where businesses help draft model legislation. House Speaker Andy Tobin said he and other lawmakers already list trips paid for by ALEC on financial disclosure forms. But Farley pointed out the forms lawmakers file simply list "ALEC'' as the source of the funds -- and not the individual corporations who provide funding for the trips -- the same corporations that craft the bills the lawmakers take back to Arizona to push.
"Our whole process up here is suspect if we don't show people where we're getting our ideas," said Farley. "If our ideas are coming from corporations that are wining and dining us in New Orleans or wherever else, and then we run a bill for them, the public should know that."
Farley actually tried to have the issue heard as an independent bill. But he was forced to offer it as an amendment to the other disclosure measure after Tobin refused to even assign his bill to a committee for a hearing. The effort failed when Republicans refused to go along.