A Riverside County lawmaker said Friday that legislation she introduced to bar former legislators from going into the lobbying business for at least five years after they leave office would elevate ethical standards and minimize undue influences.

“We must limit the abuse of authority and exploitation of our positions as legislators,” said Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore. “Residents in my district don’t believe the current restrictions go far enough. It’s wholly inappropriate for former legislators, on both sides of the aisle, to exert influence on important matters they may have been a part of before they resigned or left office.”

Melendez said her bill would amend the Milton Marks Postgovernment Employment Restrictions Act of 1990, which mandates a one-year ban on lobbying activity by former legislators, former elected heads of state agencies and other state employees generally.

AB 359 would only apply to former lawmakers, making it illegal for them to engage in state-level lobbying for five years from the date on which the legislative session was adjourned when they retired or left office.

The impetus for the Milton Marks anti-lobbying law was to limit the “revolving door” of state officials getting out of government only to find employment with firms that put them in a position to rub shoulders with former colleagues for the purpose of gaining favorable treatment for their clients, according to legislative documents.

The law was one of multiple additions to the Political Reform Act of 1974.

“As legislators, we should hold ourselves to a higher standard with the primary goal of serving the people who elected us to represent them,” Melendez said. “Our constituents expect us to serve their best interests.”

AB 359 would require a two-thirds vote of approval by the Legislature to reach the governor’s desk. It has yet to be assigned to a committee for analysis.

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