Indiana House education chairman backs out of lobbying plan

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana House Education Committee chairman announced in a letter Friday that he’s dropping plans to lobby for a company in the education field, just days after his proposal sparked ethical questions.

The Indianapolis Star reports Rep. Robert Behning notified House Ethics Chairman Greg Steuerwald, R-Avon, in a letter that he no longer plans to lobby on behalf of the student-testing company Questar Assessments.

Republican House leaders last week introduced a bill that would require lawmakers to disclose whether they are lobbying in another state.

Behning, who formed an education lobbying firm in June, was seeking approval to represent the Oklahoma-based company, which is being paid $6.4 million this year to create and run tests that Indiana high school students must pass before they graduate.

“As you are aware, our proposal would have expressly limited services to areas outside of Indiana with a strict prohibition on any dialogue with anyone in our state regarding services the entity may provide here. But we have decided not to enter an agreement with that limited scope,” Behning wrote in the letter.

House Speaker Brian Bosma said Wednesday he discouraged Behning from trying to represent education-related businesses while also overseeing the House Education Committee, but also said he couldn’t tell lawmakers what to do outside of the Legislature.

“That has become very clear to me that in today’s world that is just something I should not look at,” Behning told The Star when asked if he would seek any other lobbying clients.

The proposed tightening of disclosure requirements follows December’s resignation of former Republican House Speaker Pro Tem Eric Turner, who was the subject of an ethics investigation after he privately lobbied lawmakers to kill a proposed ban on nursing home construction that could have hurt his family’s business.


Information from: The Indianapolis Star,


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