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A bill that would bar public officials or employees in Pennsylvania from accepting most forms of cash gifts received its first endorsement in the state Senate State Government Committee Monday.The state Senate took a first step Monday toward criminalizing most cash gifts to state or local officials in Pennsylvania.
The panel voted 11-0 to sendto the full Senate floor, where it could receive a vote as early as Wednesday.
It would then still need passage in the House of Representatives, which
The bill s terms bar all state or local officials from seeking or accepting cash, checks, money orders or gift cards from lobbyists, their clients or any other person seeking official action.
It does exempt, however, campaign contributions that are reported as required by law, as well as gifts from an official s family members or relatives where the sole motivation is the family relationship.
The cash gift ban legislation, sponsored by Sen. Lisa Baker, a Republican from Luzerne County, is a response to the controversy swirling around last month s public disclosures that four sitting state House members took gifts from late 2010 through early 2012 from a government informant posing as a lobbyist.
That sting operation and Attorney General Kathleen Kane s subsequent decision to close it last year without charges because she felt the probe was fatally flawed - was
The lawmakers targeted could have faced potential violations in part because they didn t disclose the alleged gifts in ethics reports. The backlash over the aborted case has now prompted many lawmakers to want to go further.
Under the terms of Baker s bill, taking a gift of less than 0 would be a misdemeanor carrying a fine of at least ,000. A gift of 0 or more would be a felony, carrying the possibility of jail time.
Committee members expressed universal support for Baker s bill, though Sen. Anthony Williams, D-Philadelphia, sought assurances that a bill he introduced earlier this session proposing a total gift ban will still be considered.
State Government Committee Chairman Lloyd Smucker, R-Lancaster County, said he wanted to move Baker s more limited bill now in response to calls for action since The Inquirer s report.
But, he added, this, I believe, will be the beginning of the discussion.
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