Oregon Measure Would Require More Disclosure From Lobbyists

Feb 15, 2017
Originally published on February 14, 2017 6:03 pm

Oregon lawmakers are considering making lobbyists provide more information about the bills they're working on. The House Rules Committee heard testimony on the measure Tuesday.

It would make lobbyists publicly disclose their clients' positions on each measure they're trying to influence. The goal is more transparency in government.

But lobbyist Dan Bates warned that could lead to an overwhelming amount of data. Bates is working for 18 clients this session and he said some of them will likely change their position on a bill multiple times.

"If a position changes the day after a reporting requirement, we will have just presented inaccurate and frankly dead wrong information on a particular bill,” Bates said. “And the hard work of building coalition and seeking consensus can be destroyed by that misinformation."

The measure is modeled after similar disclosure requirements in six other states. Its sponsor, Corvallis Democrat Dan Rayfield, said state elections have strict disclosure requirements and that he's trying to bring a similar level of disclosure to the legislative process.

"We know exactly who is influencing the folks who get to this building," Rayfield said. "But once you get inside this building, we don't have a lot of information on what is actually influencing the decision-making process inside."

While the association of lobbyists that ply the capitol's hallways is officially neutral on the measure, Rayfield said he's managed to unite some of their clients in opposition to the proposal.

Rayfield is also the only sponsor listed on the bill, something which prompted some ribbing from House Republican leader Mike McLane of Powell Butte.

"I know that a lot of flu victims are also isolated," he said. "I would imagine your isolation may last awhile on this bill."

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