In the last session, local Texas governments spent some $41 million of taxpayer money to influence legislation in Austin. This money does not include funds spent on lobbyists, consultants, and lawyers to analyze legislation, conduct public relations, and build coalitions. It also does not include funds spent on salary or travel for government employees whose full-time job it is to lobby.
SB 702 is a straightforward transparency and good government measure. It simply requires that any public funds spent to lobby the Legislature be approved by majority vote as a separate item on the public agenda. Further, the bill requires that any dues or fees given to nonprofit associations that serve to influence legislation also be reported to the Texas Ethics Commission.