As others see it: Lawmakers-to-lawmakers? Not so fastSen. Dick Day, a Republican from Owatonna, rekindled a long-smoldering debate last week when he announced that he’ll leave the Senate next month and become president of Racino Now.
By: Post-Bulletin of Rochester, Worthington Daily Globe
Count us among those who would support a law that would prohibit Minnesotans from being members of the Legislature one day and paid lobbyists the next.
Sen. Dick Day, a Republican from Owatonna, rekindled a long-smoldering debate last week when he announced that he’ll leave the Senate next month and become president of Racino Now, an organization that supports the creation of two state-run casinos at race-tracks in the metro area.
We’re not opposed to the idea of racinos. Frankly, it’s probably high time that the state got a cut of the take from slot machines and blackjack tables. People are going to gamble, and if a racino keeps some of their money in Minnesota, rather than sending it to Las Vegas or Iowa, then so be it. The state’s coffers could use an infusion of cash.
But we’re uncomfortable with a system that basically invites our elected officials to make connections and build a network of well-placed friends, then “cash in” on those connections when opportunity knocks. ...
Keep in mind that Day’s vol-untary departure will force his constituents to hold a special election to choose his successor, which won’t be cheap. Of more importance, however, is the matter of fairness. There are two sides to every issue, and we fear that an organization with a legislator-turned-lobbyist enjoys a distinct advantage as it promotes its agenda.
Sen. John Marty, a DFLer from Roseville and a guberna-torial candidate, has introduced a bill that would mandate a two-year cooling-off period before a legislator could become a lobbyist. It’s not an original idea — he says 30 states and the federal government have such “revolving door” laws.
We hope Day’s decision prompts Minnesota to follow a similar path.