The state House of Representatives on Monday soundly defeated a bill that would have prevented state agencies from hiring contract lobbyists to try to influence lawmakers.
The bill was defeated by a vote of 64 to 30.
“Taxpayer-funded lobbying, by which taxpayer money is used to hire lobbyists to — in many cases — maybe lobby for more taxpayer money, ... has been considered by many to be completely inappropriate,” said Jason Murphey, R-Guthrie, author of House Bill 2537. “This bill addresses that and seeks to put an end to that abusive practice.”
Murphey’s bill would have applied to state agencies that don’t receive state appropriations, as well as those that do. It also would have prohibited lobbyists from going to work for the state within two years of the time they were registered as lobbyists.
Many lawmakers found both of those requirements objectionable.
“This is government overreach,” said state Rep. Doug Cox, R-Grove.
Cox argued that state agencies that don’t receive taxpayer funds ought to be able to spend money on contract lobbyists if they choose.
State Rep. Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, said he agreed in principle with much of the bill but didn’t agree with prohibiting lobbyists from going to work for the state for two years after they leave the lobbying profession.
He also said many agencies get around a current prohibition against using appropriated dollars to hire lobbyists by putting full-time legislative liaisons on their payrolls.