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Fireworks

Fireworks explode over the Nebraska State Capitol to conclude the Nebraska 150 Celebration on Sept. 22, 2017.

The Journal Star's editorial ("Let’s improve transparency on lobbying expenditures," June 29) is correct. Nebraska’s laws regarding lobbying expenditures should be more transparent.

The paper is also correct that lobbying is not a bad thing. State senators say that lobbyists provide valuable information on complex subjects. They also say that lobbyists who try to lie to senators will quickly be out of a job. Lobbyists know that, too.

Also, remember that lobbying is one way most of us exercise our First Amendment right to petition our government. All of us – teachers, farmers, truck drivers, hair stylists, electricians, bankers – are members of some group who “petition their government” by means of lobbyists. Lobbyists’ work is constitutionally protected.

But some groups have a lot more money and can hire more lobbyists to make their case to senators. That’s where increased transparency comes in. We need to know which senators get what from lobbyists and those who hire them – be it nice dinners, receptions with the rich and famous or other activities designed to improve the relationship between lobbyists and senators.

To repeat, the relationship is not necessarily bad. But Nebraskans have a right to know how it works. It’s time to revise the Accountability and Disclosure Act to be sure lobbyists’ and senators’ reports are informative, up to date and easy to access online.

Senators need lobbyists. Citizens need lobbyists. But we should be true to the Unicameral’s tradition of openness and transparency. Government is more effective if people have faith in its processes.

Charlyne Berens, Lincoln

Author, "One House"

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