Lobbying Missouri

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri House Speaker John Diehl, R-Town and Country, has banned all committee hearings and legislative meetings held at country clubs and restaurants, effective immediately.

St. Louis Public Radio

The 2014 legislative session was historically one of the most expensive sessions. At least for lobbyists.

In the first six months of this year, lobbyists spent $673,062 on gifts (most of them meals) for the Missouri legislature. Taking a look at the past decade's worth of data, this is the second highest year on record. The most expensive year was in 2013, when legislators accepted $749,994 in the first half of the year.

The average cost of a gift this year was $102.65, which is roughly on par with prior years.

(via Flickr/Kami)

Through the first six months of the year, Missouri lawmakers accepted $675,000 in gifts from lobbyists.

On Monday, we'll be taking a look at some of the noticeable trends -- how this year stacks up with years past, which parties and lawmakers have been taking the gifts, etc. But today we're going to take a look at four noteworthy gifts from the first half of the year.

(via Flickr/401K)

Lobbyists spend nearly $1 million each year on gifts for Missouri lawmakers. The types of gifts vary greatly -- from expensive meals and drinks to tickets for sporting events to small things like stamps and books.

Each month, lobbyists have to disclose those gifts. And, in partnership with NPR, St. Louis Public Radio has a website (LobbyingMissouri.org) that keeps track of it all.

Money gift
"Tax Credits" / Via Flickr

The Missouri House could debate a bill this week that would enact some changes to how lobbying is conducted and disclosed in Jefferson City.

Currently, there are no limits on how much a lawmaker can receive in gifts from lobbyists. The gifts from lobbyists can include anything from food and drinks to expensive travel to sports tickets. Altogether, lobbyists spend about $1 million each year on the gifts.

A bill by state Rep. Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, would make some changes to lobbying practices, but it wouldn't be the sweeping ethics reform that many have called for.

Almost 300 bills were prefiled in the Missouri Senate and Missouri House before the legislative session even opened. Now that the legislative session is underway, some of those bills will fade away, others will move through the legislative process and even more new ones will be introduced.

No wonder it's hard to keep up with what's going on in the legislature.

Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio.

This week the Politically Speaking crew welcomes Secretary of State Jason Kander to the podcast. Kander, a Democrat from Kansas City, narrowly captured the statewide office in 2012 after a hard-fought contest with Republican Shane Schoeller.

Tim Bommel/Mo. House Communications

Updated 7:19 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 12

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is once again pressing for ethics reform in state government, and for the resurrection of campaign donation limits. But this time, Nixon may be hoping for stronger interest in the Republican-controlled General Assembly, where some GOP legislators now share some of his views.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Companies and other organizations with an interest in Missouri state government hire lobbyists to influence policy in Jefferson City. State law requires lobbyists to disclose how much they spend in the process, listing which officials received benefits, such as free meals, professional sports tickets, trips and other gifts.

Lobbying Missouri, a new reporting partnership of St. Louis Public Radio and NPR, provides an interactive way to follow the money.

(via Wikimedia Commons/MyCanon)

Missouri legislators took in about $100,000 in gifts from lobbyists during the summer legislative break. In total for this year, lobbyists have spent $850,702 to try to sway public policy.

If the gifts continue, it's likely to reach $1 million by the end of the year.

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