HARRISBURG – Legislation that would ban cash gifts to legislators and public officials was unanimously approved by the Senate today.
Sen. Lloyd Smucker (R-13) and Sen. Lisa Baker (R-20) introduced Senate Bill 1327 to prohibit public officials from accepting cash gifts from lobbyists and other individuals who seek to influence the legislative process. In addition to banning cash gifts to members of the General Assembly, the legislation applies to a wide range of public officials and employees in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government.
The Senate also passed Senate Resolution 339 to impose a new Senate Rule that places a similar ban on cash gifts to Senators and their staff.
The ban would apply to all U.S. and foreign currency, checks, money orders, prepaid gift cards and debit cards. Exceptions are provided for gifts or prizes offered to the general public, commercial loans made in the normal course of business, gifts from family members who are not linked to official action and properly reported campaign contributions.
Under the provisions of the legislation, public officials who accept a prohibited cash gift of $250 or more would face a fine of up to $10,000 and a prison sentence of up to five years.
Smucker reiterated the importance of additional reforms to begin the process of rebuilding the public’s trust in government. A Senate State Government Committee hearing on April 28 will explore a series of comprehensive reforms regarding non-cash gifts, such as hospitality and entertainment.
“It is our responsibility to take direct and decisive action to change the culture, to strengthen ethical standards, and to make certain that enforcement follows infractions and that meaningful penalties are applied,” Smucker said. “This is our chance to strengthen ethical standards, and we must seize the opportunity.”
After passage of the gift ban, Smucker delivered floor remarks underscoring the significance of the measure and detailing the importance of the upcoming hearing. Audio and video links of Smucker’s remarks on the Senate floor following passage of Senate Bill 1327 and Senate Resolution 339 are available online at www.senatorsmucker.com.
Contact: Matt Parido