The Lead

End of an era: ‘Lobbyist Room’ at the back of the Pa. House closes its doors, report

By: - April 1, 2019 8:58 am

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It’s the end of an era for Pennsylvania’s professional lobbying corps.

The Associated Press reports:

“It happened without any warning: The “lobbyist room” at the back of Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives chamber was closed and is now off limits to lobbyists.

For decades, lobbyists could sit there in a handful of comfortable chairs, watch floor proceedings on TV, print out copies of legislation and send messages to lawmakers in the chamber through a House page who was effectively assigned full-time to this task during floor sessions.

The room was, perhaps, a vestige of a clubbier time decades ago when lobbyists were said to have mingled on the floor with lawmakers during voting sessions, and representatives from the oil and railroad industries were known as the 51st and 52nd senators.

But no more: The House’s chief administrative official said he decided last year it is not appropriate and shut it down before even telling its regulars.

…To some extent, the room is an anachronism.

Lawmakers didn’t always enjoy getting a lobbyist’s summons through a House page. The extra open door leading into House chambers created a security headache. There are other places to get copies of bills. Floor proceedings can be watched from a fourth-floor gallery or even on a cellphone. And lobbyists can simply text or email lawmakers now, said House Clerk David Reddecliff.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.