It seems to me that our lawmakers are missing the point of imposing new ethical limits on themselves:
In the Senate Finance Committee, Co-chairman Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, pushed for the limit to be raised to $50, "which would cover a reasonable meal, nothing too elaborate."
Sen. Donny Olson, D-Nome, said even a hamburger in his bush district could top the limit.
"Maybe not a $50 hamburger, but you'd be approaching it pretty quickly," he said.
The point of the rule is not to affect a lawmaker's ability to have a "reasonable" meal with a lobbyist. It's that when they have that meal they let everyone know about it.
A "reasonable" meal (and $50 is way over the reasonable limit for me) is exactly the problem here. It buys a lobbyist access to lawmakers to pitch them on whatever they want. The average voter who shows up in Juneau may not get that uninterrupted access, particularly if it is late in the session. If my lawmakers are spending a lot of time with lobbyists, I want to know about it and the $15 rule makes that possible. I won't necessarily judge the lawmakers for eating those meals but I do want to know about them.
If lawmakers are worried that the list of people they eat with would make them look bad in public, then they should really ask themselves who they're eating with and whether it's what they're in Juneau to do.
Also, a note to my good senator, I had a good salmon burger, french fries, and iced tea for less than $15 at Fat Freddie's last week.