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Government and Politics
Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Washington Ethics Board Settles On 12 Lobbyist-Paid Meals Per Year

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Washington’s Legislative Ethics Board voted Tuesday to allow lawmakers to accept a dozen lobbyist-paid meals per year, but no more.

On the low end, one Board member proposed a limit of three free meals a year. On the high side there was a proposal to allow two dozen per year. Even the compromise of 12 lobbyist-paid meals per year did not receive a unanimous vote.

It’s also not a final rule. That will come this October when the Ethics Board meets again. The bottom line is that it appears for the first time Washington lawmakers will have clear guidance on what it means when state law says they can accept free meals on an ‘infrequent’ basis. Until now, that word ‘infrequent’ had not been defined. Now it is.

The Ethics Board took up the issue of free meals for lawmakers following our reporting with the Associated Press last year.