In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was a not-so-nice king condemned to spend eternity rolling a boulder up a hill only to have it roll back down again before he could reach the top.
In recent years, members of Kentucky's Legislative Ethics Commission may have gained a little empathy for poor Sisyphus and his perpetual exercise in futility.
Each year lately, the commission has submitted a well-reasoned set of recommended changes in the ethics law to the General Assembly.
Come the next legislative session, a bill incorporating the recommendations gets filed in one or both of the legislative chambers and promptly gets sent to a committee.
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Then, the boulder rolls down the hill again.
Such was the fate this year of House Bill 151 and Senate Bill 67, both of which included the recommended changes the commission submitted to lawmakers last August. Those recommendations were very similar to the changes the commission had proposed the previous year and the year before that and, well, you get the picture.
Give the commission credit, though. It keeps trying.
Its June newsletter included the latest set of proposed changes it's submitting to the General Assembly. Instead of the 15 to 20 recommendations it has proposed in previous years, the commission pared the new list down to a handful of changes it considers to be the most important.
These include a true "no cup of coffee" rule barring lobbyists and their employers from providing individual lawmakers with "anything of value." Currently, lobbyists and their employers can spend up to $100 a year on food and beverages for individual legislators.
Another recommendation would make legislative candidates subject to the same rules as sitting lawmakers. While lobbyists and their employers are limited in what they can give to or do for incumbent lawmakers, no such limits apply to their interaction with non-incumbent legislative candidates.
Fairness demands that the same rules apply to incumbents and non-incumbents.
Other changes the commission is recommending would bar employers of lobbyists and political action committees from contributing to legislators and legislative candidates during regular General Assembly sessions and bar lobbyists from directly soliciting contributions for legislators or legislative candidates.
A new proposal this year would require employers of lobbyists to report the cost of any advertising they buy promoting or opposing legislation during a General Assembly session.
The rationale for such a requirement should be obvious to anyone who has ever seen one of these issue-oriented ads. They fit into the definition of lobbying just as surely as hiring a lobbyist does.
These are good, solid recommendations Senate President David Williams and House Speaker Greg Stumbo should embrace in the 2013 General Assembly session.
The commission has been pushing needed changes in the ethics law long enough. It's time to get this rock to the top of the hill.