Kenneth Nance, who has been roaming the Capitol halls for nearly 25 years as a lobbyist, said requiring lawmakers to wait a couple of years before they could be hired as lobbyists probably wouldn’t have much effect, he said.
"A lot of legislators are coming back after staying out for only a year or two,” said Nance, who served as a House member from Oklahoma City from 1968-78. "I never like to complain about competition. Obviously I’d like to have the monopoly on it, but that’s not good for the system.”
Some lobbyists have said competition has increased as lawmakers, fresh from their term in office, return to the rotunda to lobby.
Doug Miller, who served as a House member from Norman from 1994-2006, said he didn’t wait to come back to the Capitol and work as a lobbyist.
Miller, who returned as a lobbyist within two years after he couldn’t seek re-election because of 12-year legislative term limits, said maintaining relationships with lawmakers helps him lobby, but that might not work for all lawmakers.
"It really depends on how partisan of a member you were,” he said. "If you were really partisan, it could negatively affect your ability to lobby with all members.”
Miller said a "cooling off” period likely wouldn’t have much effect on lobbying at the Capitol.
"I don’t think it would make a difference,” he said.
"We already have a prohibition now that a lawmaker cannot go straight to work for a state entity, but there are tons of ex-legislators that go to work for some function of government. They just can’t be paid with state dollars. They can be paid with federal dollars. There’s always a way to work around those things and the letter of the law is not really adhered to on that.”
Phil Ostrander, who served as a House member from Collinsville from 1996-2000, has a different opinion about the situation.
He said he had opportunities to lobby immediately after he lost his 2000 re-election bid, but chose against it.
"After I lost that election I thought it was time to refocus my life,” Ostrander said. "I made a conscious effort to sit out. I think that’s appropriate.”
Ron Peterson, who served as a House member from Broken Arrow from 2000-08 and took a lobbyist job shortly after his term expired, said lobbying is a natural progression for a lawmaker.
"You spend a number of years here, you learn how everything works,” he said. "It’s a valuable skill set and over time you build relationships. It’s just the natural outflow of your service that makes it available. It makes you a valuable commodity out there.”