A state House member wants to double the length of the “cooling-off period” for former state lawmakers looking to take their turn at lobbying.
A bill filed this week by Rep. Scott Stone, a Mecklenburg County Republican, would extend the required wait time from six months to 12 months.
Stone, an engineer from Charlotte, said House Bill 48 isn’t intended as a response to some of his former colleagues who resigned last year from the General Assembly and have since registered to become lobbyists. Instead, it’s intended to put North Carolina on an even playing field with other states.
Stone, who is serving his first full term in the House, said “six months feels like too short a period of time.”
In North Carolina, former public servants – in this case lawmakers – can’t resign or leave and then come back to lobby during the same session, but the six-month wait time allows them to leave after a short session in an election year and come back to lobby during the long session in the following year. “There is no real gap,” Stone said. “If you leave at the end of the short session, you’re really not on the sidelines at all if we get out of session in late June, early July – you’re back in January and the six months is up.”
Stone said the change keeps up with good government practices and said the bill isn’t a “reaction” to former lawmakers who have resigned and become lobbyists – like Tom Apodaca and Mike Hager. “They are doing what was allowed under current rules, so I have no issues with individuals in the past that have done this,” Stone said. “It’s not a recent situation. It's been going on for years and it’ll likely continue to go on.”