Legislators may do away with the three-dollar limit on food and drink that lobbyists can buy them. The limit was established in the mid-90s after an ethics scandal. It means legislators are not to accept food or drink that costs more than $2.99 — so you can buy ’em a cup of coffee but not a bottle of scotch. Some complain it’s hard to get to know other legislators because there aren’t as many receptions with free-flowing food and beer. Senate Democrat Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs doesn’t want to get rid of the $2.99 limit which has ended the ‘wining and dining” of individual legislators, but he is interested in making it easier for groups to host receptions for the entire legislature, Gronstal says the law has limited the amount of contact legislators have with one another outside the statehouse, and he says that’s magnified the partisan rancor. Gronstal says it’s harder to become friends with other legislators because the number of social opportunities have been restricted. Senate Republican Leader Stewart Iverson of Dows says there’s an upside to having fewer freebies for lawmakers: legislators are spending more time at the statehouse working on business than going to parties at night or lunch with lobbyists during the day. Iverson, though, says he’s grown up in a culture where folks buy one another a meal as part of business, and he’d be willing to consider getting rid of the lobbyist spending limit.
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