Representative Scott Stone (R-105) has filed a bill to lengthen the ‘cooling off’ period for legislators who wish to become a lobbyist.
NC General Statute 120C-304 states in part that, “No legislator or former legislator may register as a lobbyist while in office or before the later of the close of the session in which the legislator served or six months after leaving office.”
Rep. Stone says that, “This is common sense legislation that represents good government. It needs to become law.”
The bill, titled “Legislator-Lobbyist Reform Act” (HB 48), will lengthen that six month window to 12 months.
Primary sponsors of the bill aside from Stone include Representatives Faircloth (R-61), Howard (R-79), and Setzer (R-89).
The bill currently resides with the rules committee.
Keeping Up With Other States
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), 34 other states have what is known as ‘revolving door’ legislation for legislators wanting to become lobbyists.
North Carolina is only one three states with a cooling off period that is shorter than one year. The other two are Michigan and Nevada.
According to NCSL, 24 states have 1 year required break and 10 states have a two-year period.
“By extending the ‘revolving door period’ of when a legislator can become a lobbyist, we are bringing North Carolina in line with most other states. 12-months is not a long period of time for someone to have to wait.”
“When we, as Republicans, hold super-majorities in the General Assembly, we have a greater responsibility to ensure North Carolinians have trust in their government.” said Rep. Stone.
Legislators Turned Lobbyists
Several legislators over the last year or two have turned lobbyist. Two higher profile legislators who have recentle gone that route are Mike Hager and Tom Apodaca.
Mike Hager is the Former N.C. House Majority Leader. Hager resigned in August of 2016 and has launched a lobbying firm of his own called Hager Strategic Solutions. Hager has not yet registered as a lobbyist as he has not quite yet meet the current 6 month waiting period.
Tom Apodaca, a former Senate Rules Chairman, resigned in July of 2016. Apodaca has also started his own lobbyist firm – Vista Strategies & Solutions Group LLC.
Apodaca has registered as a lobbyist and already has an impressive client list that includes Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Altria Client Services LLC and its Affiliates such as Philip Morris USA Inc., John Middleton Co., U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co., and Nu Mark LLC.
Charles Jeter, who also resigned in July 2016, announced late last year that he would be working for Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) as the district’s government relations coordinator. The Charlotte Observer characterized the move as ‘lobbying for CMS‘, however Jeter has not registered as a lobbyist.
Former General Assembly Senator Thom Goolsby (2011-2014) is a registered lobbyist representing the Education Freedom Alliance and New Hanover Regional Medical Center.
Former Representative Bryan Holloway (2005-2015) also took the lobbyist route. His clients include Resource Institute, Inc., Professional Educators of NC and the NC Association of School Administrators.
Another notable legislator turned lobbyist is Harold Brubaker (1976-2012), former Speaker of the N.C. House of Representatives. Brubaker has long been considered one of the most influential lobbyists in the state with a powerful and long client list that includes the likes of GlaxoSmithKline, Pepsi, FedEx and Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Other former NC House members who are now lobbyists include, Jeff Barnhart , Debbie Clary, Jim Harrell , Chuck Neely, Fred Steen and Connie Wilson.
Former NC Senators include Patrick Ballantine, Steve Metcalf, Sandy Sands and Richard Stevens.