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House speaker proposes lobbying reforms

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Indiana Speaker of the House B. Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, will propose a comprehensive series of ethics reforms in the 2010 legislative session that he said will impact lawmakers, members of the executive branch, and people who do business with the state.

Bauer has proposed three areas of reform: legislative branch restrictions, executive branch restrictions, and state contracting and contributions.

Lobbyists would be required to report any gift of more than $50 to a legislator, legislative candidate, or legislative employee. Anyone who holds a state elected office may not register as a lobbyist for one year after leaving office. Lobbyists also won't be able to represent multiple clients if there's a conflict of interest between those clients.

The proposed reforms also will require:

- Anyone appointed to a position in the executive branch by the governor won't be allowed to register as a lobbyist for one year after leaving the post.

- Committees representing the governor or any gubernatorial candidate will be prohibited from soliciting contributions or having fundraisers during the long session of the General Assembly or for a time period around Organization Day.

- People with state government contracts or who bid on contracts will be prohibited from making political contributions to individuals who hold state office or run for state office. Those who bid on or receive contracts will have to register with the state's election division. Violators will receive civil and criminal penalties and may lose their state contracts.

"By enacting these guidelines, we will make sure that any expenditure of state funds are based upon the quality of a contractor's work product rather than the size of their political contributions. These are reforms demanded by the people of Indiana, and I will move quickly to see them become law in 2010," Bauer said in a statement today.

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  1. The fee increase would be livable except for the 11% increase in spending at the Disciplinary Commission. The Commission should be focused on true public harm rather than going on witch hunts against lawyers who dare to criticize judges.

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  5. From the perspective of a practicing attorney, it sounds like this masters degree in law for non-attorneys will be useless to anyone who gets it. "However, Ted Waggoner, chair of the ISBA’s Legal Education Conclave, sees the potential for the degree program to actually help attorneys do their jobs better. He pointed to his practice at Peterson Waggoner & Perkins LLP in Rochester and how some clients ask their attorneys to do work, such as filling out insurance forms, that they could do themselves. Waggoner believes the individuals with the legal master’s degrees could do the routine, mundane business thus freeing the lawyers to do the substantive legal work." That is simply insulting to suggest that someone with a masters degree would work in a role that is subpar to even an administrative assistant. Even someone with just a certificate or associate's degree in paralegal studies would be overqualified to sit around helping clients fill out forms. Anyone who has a business background that they think would be enhanced by having a legal background will just go to law school, or get an MBA (which typically includes a business law class that gives a generic, broad overview of legal concepts). No business-savvy person would ever seriously consider this ridiculous master of law for non-lawyers degree. It reeks of desperation. The only people I see getting it are the ones who did not get into law school, who see the degree as something to add to their transcript in hopes of getting into a JD program down the road.

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