State lawmakers from around the country will descend on Seattle the week of August 3 for a national legislative summit.

Nearly two years after public radio and the Associated Press investigated lobbyist-paid meals for Washington lawmakers, the issue is still a topic of discussion in the legislature.

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Washington’s Legislative Ethics Board has capped the number of free meals lawmakers can accept from lobbyists.

Now the Ethics Board will consider whether lawmakers must report those meals. A meeting is scheduled for December 2.

Colin Fogarty / Northwest News Network

Starting in January, Washington lawmakers will be barred from accepting more than 12 lobbyist paid meals per year. The state’s Legislative Ethics Board adopted that limit today after months of public hearings and deliberation.

Ethics Board Settles On 12 Lobbyist-Paid Meals Per Year

Aug 19, 2014
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Washington lawmakers will be allowed to accept a dozen lobbyist-paid meals per year but no more. That was the vote Tuesday from the state’s Legislative Ethics Board.

Colin Fogarty / Northwest News Network

Washington state law allows lawmakers to accept gifts of food and drink on infrequent occasions. But the word “infrequent” has never been defined.

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How often is “infrequent” when it comes to state lawmakers accepting free meals from lobbyists? Washington’s Legislative Ethics Board spent nearly two hours Tuesday taking testimony on that issue and then grappling with the answer.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

There’s a lot of debate these days about unlimited money in politics - and whether it corrupts the process. But does it matter who’s giving the money? And what their motivation is? In Washington state, Governor Jay Inslee has found a wealthy partner in his fight to combat global climate change. He’s California hedge fund founder Tom Steyer – a man the L.A. Times says may be the “liberals’ answer” to the conservative billionaire Koch brothers. Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins reports on Inslee’s connection to this out-of-state billionaire.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

By next January Washington lawmakers should have clearer guidance on when it’s OK to accept free meals from lobbyists.

It looks like Washington lawmakers may adjourn their 60-day legislative session without addressing the issue of lobbyist-paid entertainment.