Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Session's Almost Over, Let The Partying Begin!

As the 79th Legislative session comes to a close along with the coming of summer it's also time to being partying! Parties paid for by lobbyists a red flag for some:
The end of the legislative session is near, so let the parties begin.

And let the lobby pay for them.

With less than two weeks until lawmakers adjourn, House committees are taking up their long-standing tradition of celebratory dinners that mark the end of 140 days of grueling work and long nights.

And most of them are sponsored by groups that have had direct contact with those committees on legislation of great importance to them throughout the session – drawing the ire of some consumer groups who say the dinners have turned from a thankful gesture among lawmakers to an act of influence peddling.

At best, they say, the dinners create an appearance of impropriety. At worst, they fear, lobbyists for industries and groups are buying access for special interests whose issues have been before the committees all session.
Time to get rid of all that stress of being lobbied by corporate special interests for the past 140 days by allowing them a little access:
About 80 people are feeding Rep. Kino Flores' Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee at a local restaurant. Each of the sponsors is forking over about $30, he said.

The Mission Democrat denied that any influence was being traded, saying the lobby gets "face-to-face contact."

"If anything, it's access," he said. "That's what they're really buying is access – not influence."
To be sure it's not just Republicans that allow access plenty of Democrats allow access as well. Where does Rep. Krusee stand on all of this?
The Texas Council of Engineering Companies and a contractors' group, often on opposite sides of issues, are both feeding the Transportation Committee at the lakeside restaurant Hula Hut. The panel's chairman, Rep. Mike Krusee, R-Round Rock, said that was done on purpose.

"You have competing interests, so I didn't want to make it seem like one guy had an advantage over everyone else," he said.
No, you sure wouldn't want it to "seem" that way.

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