Commentary: Some Alaska lawmakers want lobbyists to pick up a bigger check

Ladies and gentlemen of the Legislature, kindly get a grip.

Sen. John Coghill and some of his legislative colleagues want to raise the limit of what lobbyists can spend on lawmakers' meals without reporting it. He wants to raise the limit from $15 to $50.

Why? Well, it seems that good meals cost more than $15 in Juneau and other parts of the state. And if a lawmaker should go to lunch with a lobbyist and order something that costs $17.50, that lobbyist has to report the meal and who it was for.

What's the problem here? Are we supposed to feel sympathy for the poor lobbyist who must report the expenditure? Empathize with the lawmaker who skips the soup to spare the lobbyist? Lament for the lawmaker who suffers without dessert so there need be no public report of her meal with the lobbyist?

That law is on the books precisely to limit the influence of lobbyists and provide maximum public knowledge of the relationships between lobbyists and lawmakers. If lobbyists don't want to report what they spend on lawmakers, they should find another line of work. If lawmakers think they're entitled to be wined and dined -- or even burgered and fried -- by lobbyists without the public knowing about it, they should find another line of work.

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