In a move that avoids an inevitable constitutional challenge, the Indiana House yesterday unanimously passed House Bill 1001, authored by House Speaker Patrick Bauer and co-sponsored by Minority Leader Brian Bosma, without the original pay-to-play language which was struck from the bill by the Senate.
Last Thursday, the Indiana State Senate passed a comprehensive piece of ethics legislation by an impressive 50-0 vote. Conspicuously absent from the Senate bill was previously-included language containing "pay-to-play" language, including a provision that would bar vendors holding or seeking state contracts worth $100,000 or more per year from donating to the campaigns of candidates seeking state office. At issue now is whether a House-Senate conference committee will reinstate the stricken language before sending the bill to Governor Mitch Daniels for signature.
Even without the pay-to-play language, the proposed legislation has teeth, in that it imposes a one year “cooling off period” on lawmakers seeking to become lobbyists, a requirement that lobbyists report conflicts of interest involving more than one of their clients, and a ban on incumbents or candidates for statewide office raising campaign funds during budget-writing legislative sessions.
The once on again, now off again, perhaps on again, pay-to-play language is notable for its breadth as well as in the sanctions it imposes for non-compliance. The proposed pay to play language requires all entities whose business with the state aggregates more than $100,000 to maintain registration information in an online, downloadable format, for four years from the award of the contract or for a year after the termination of the contract, whichever is longer, and prohibits the company , its “executives”, their spouses, and their minor children, from making any contributions to any state officeholder or candidate.
We’re watching this one. If the proposed pay-to-play language is reinserted and signed by (purported dark horse presidential candidate) Governor Daniels, Indiana will join the ranks of those states imposing extremely stringent contribution limitations that the regulated community will struggle to comply with. Indiana will also join the ranks of states in possession of a statute likely to encounter significant difficulty in overcoming First Amendment challenge in the courts.