Lobbyists and Public Schools
LB 741, presented by Lincoln’s Sen. Bill Avery, would prevent school districts from using state aid money for expenses related to lobbyists. I wish I knew Sen. Avery’s motives. (The bill’s statement of intent isn’t particularly enlightening.) If his purpose is simply to ensure that state aid dollars focus on education rather than recycling back into the political process, that’s something I can support. But if his purpose instead centers around some sort of misguided anti-lobbying crusade, I’m going to have to disagree.
Lobbyists aren’t the bad guys they’re often portrayed to be. Sure, lobbying can be a dirty industry, but only if the politicians allow it. And in that case it’s corrupt politicians, not lobbyists, that are the problem. Nebraska’s lobbying environment is, as far as I know, pretty clean.
Like I said above, preventing the use of state aid for lobbyists is fine. But attempting to halt all formal lobbying by public school districts would be a futile exercise. School districts will always want to have a set of eyes and ears in the Unicameral. Whether or not you call that person a “lobbyist”, a “government affairs coordinator”, a “statehouse liaison”, or anything else is merely a matter of semantics. LPS will always have some sort of representative present at the capitol acting as a bridge between State Senators and the Board of Education; likewise with other school districts, ESUs, and so forth. And that’s a good thing. We want our school districts to be educated on the goings-on in the Unicameral, and we want our Senators to know what our school districts think about legislative proposals.
What do you think about Sen. Avery’s LB 741, or about the concept of school lobbyists in general?