Making the most of the Special Legislative Session, one Houston-area Legislator is calling for more ethics accountability in Texas

Lawmakers leaves the Texas House of Representatives after they passes a final transportation funding bill and adjourned, Monday, Aug. 5, 2013, in Austin , Texas. The Texas House has passed a bill and the proposed constitutional amendment that would boost spending for roads and bridges. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Rep. Sarah Davis (R-West University Place) believes there is a high-priority need to reshape the state’s legislative ethics laws.

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This is why the Houston-area legislator is pushing for improved ethics reform during summer’s special session.

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Calling on Governor Greg Abbott to add ethics reform to the Legislature’s appendix agenda, Rep. Davis proposed six new bills across a spectrum of legislative issues.

Her priorities include a ban on campaign contributions during a special session, empowering the Texas Ethics Commission to enforce penalties for ethics violations and prohibiting donors who give more than $2,500 to any gubernatorial campaign from receiving appointments.

While five of the bills moved through preliminary ethics committee considerations, Davis held back on pushing her sixth bill, calling for an end to the practice of allowing legislators to become lobbyists immediately after leaving office.

This so-called “revolving door bill” would prohibit former legislators from taking jobs as lobbyists for at least two years after their term expires. It also seeks to limit how lobbyists can use former legislators for their influence and connections to meet their respective needs.

Legislative supporters agree these changes are necessary to maintain an environment of accountability, but the sixth bill faces serious opposition in the House.

Meanwhile, in the upper chamber, a similar version of the bill already died in the Senate’s Calendar Committee, the scheduling committee, who sat on the bill until the legislative session was nearly over earlier this year, leaving the bill without enough time for a study, debate or vote.

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Davis requested Abbott to include ethics reform on the agenda for the special session, but the Legislative leader is still refusing to add more items until his 20-point agenda receives attention and reconciliation.

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