Until this year, Maryland law governing disclosure of gifts from lobbyists to lawmakers was so strict that one Annapolis couple who planned to marry complained that their personal gifts were showing up in state reports. A bill to exempt such gifts from reporting passed the General Assembly March 30, but rules are still so tough that it's easy to determine how much certain interests - casino gambling, for example - are spending to influence legislation.
Pennsylvania should be so lucky. The lobbying law there, last modified in 1976, has so many loopholes that only 161 of the state's 848 registered lobbyists reported spending any money to influence legislation in 1995, the last year for which figures are available. That time lag and the lax requirements are both unacceptable.
State Sen. David Heckler, a Bucks County Republican, agrees. Under a bill he's introduced, every lobbyist would have to identify their clients to the state's Ethics Commission and the issues on which they're lobbying.