Lobbyists can spend more wining and dining legislators and others they seek to influence beginning later this year as the cap increases yet again.
The Louisiana Board of Ethics is scheduled Friday to start the legal process to allow $60 to be spent per occasion effective July 1.
The current per event limit is $58.
The amount has been steadily rising since the Legislature implemented a $50 spending cap in 2008 as part of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s ethics package. The new law allowed the spending cap to increase with the consumer price index, or CPI. The provision has resulted in a 20 percent increase over five years.
Since its adoption in 2008, the spending cap has increased in all but one year. In 2009, the rate increased to $53, then in 2010, it went to $54. It increased to $56 in 2012, then by $1 in each of the next two years.
The Ethics Board certifies the amount each year, then promulgates the rules to implement the new rate. The CPI increased 3.2 percent during 2014, according to an Ethics Board memorandum.
The 3.2 percent applied to the current $58 cap comes to $1.86. With rounding to the nearest dollar — also required under the law — it comes to a $2 increase.
The limit applies to food, drink and other refreshments purchased for public employees and elected officials. State law bans any wining and dining in excess of the established amount.
Lobbyists must file monthly reports with the Ethics Board on the spending.
The spending cap arrangement is similar to one legislators approved to determine how much per diem they should receive when in session, attending interim committee meetings and the like. Per diem stood at $75 in 1997 when the legislators changed state law to tie it to the reimbursement rate federal employees receive while traveling in the Baton Rouge area. Since then, the per diem has doubled — now standing at $150.