A key deadline passed with both House and Senate committees failing to pass legislation—requested by Attorney General Bob Ferguson—that would have created a one year ‘cooling off period’ before elected and senior government officials could become paid lobbyists.

The bill would have expanded the existing post-public employment restrictions to include a 12-month “cooling off” period before statewide elected officials, state legislators, other heads of agencies or senior executive staff would be eligible to lobby in the private sector. Sen. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, the prime sponsor of Senate Bill 6258, and House Bill 1136 issued the following statement:

“We know how we can better define the line between public service and the private interests. This bill would have helped our state achieve that goal. The post-public service employment limits our state already has in place are a good starting point, however, I believe that we can and must do better to create greater transparency, protections and accountability in the area of government ethics.”

“A 12-month cooling off period is a reasonable length of time to consider and would create a large enough wedge to effectively slow down our state’s current revolving door. Despite having the support of many editorial boards across the state, from Spokane to Everett, and from Olympia to Wenatchee. From Vancouver to Seattle, we had unanimous support and we heard their message loud and clear.

“I am not satisfied with the grade that our state recently received from The Center for Public Integrity, and neither should our taxpayers. Our state received an overall grade of D+ in the 2015 State Integrity Investigation. In individual categories, our state earned a grade of D- for Legislative Accountability. In most classrooms the grade of a D+ or D- would not pass muster. Why should the State of Washington continue to accept an all-but-failing system and not attempt to strengthen our relatively weak post-employment restrictions?

“Our state would not have been the first to adopt legislation of this type. The federal government has adopted legislation approving a cooling off period and more than 33 other states across the country have enacted similar legislation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

“This bill is not meant to deter former legislators or others from moving on and making a living elsewhere. It is meant to ensure that lawmakers, cabinet secretaries, and other senior staff are not placed into situations where information they were privy to in a previous job can help influence the outcome of their new position. There is great public value in restoring trust in government.

‘I appreciate and respect the work of Attorney General Ferguson and will continue to partner with him until we pass this essential legislation.

“We clearly have more work to do.”