Harrisburg – The state Senate today unanimously approved two measures sponsored by Senator Lisa Baker (R-20) to ban cash gifts.
The first Senate Resolution 339 changes Senate Ethical Conduct Rules by implementing an immediate ban on cash gifts to Senators and Senate employees. The second reform Senate Bill 1327 would prevent the acceptance of cash gifts for all state and local public officials and employees. The bill also applies penalties for violations. It now goes to the House for consideration.
Cash gifts include United States or foreign currency, money orders, checks, prepaid debit or credit cards, and gift cards or certificates. Certain exceptions, such as commercial loans, family gifts, and random drawings, are exempted.
Baker delivered the following floor remarks encouraging affirmative votes:
“Whenever wrongdoing occurs, Pennsylvanians have become accustomed to hearing a lot of words and promises about reform. But it is not so typical to have an understandable and effective remedy developed and voted so quickly after the trouble comes to light.
Senate approval of this legislation gives hope that an ugly problem is about to yield a respectable solution.
There is nothing complicated about this bill. This sets in law basic ground rules everyone can readily grasp. For individuals and interest groups dealing with state officials, do not offer cash gifts, or anything resembling cash. For those holding positions of public responsibility, if someone offers it, reject it and report the infraction.
That is where most of us believed the system was, until the sting operation proved otherwise. Now there is no longer reliance on good faith; there are enforceable penalties for violations.
From the conception of this legislation to our action today, the process has been bipartisan, constructive, and responsive to the public interest. Leaders and members have demonstrated leadership in direction and action. This is what people want to see, not just on this matter of reform, but across the issues we confront. Come together to do what we must for the public interest.
People believe, rightly, and we must acknowledge, that the work of reform is far finished. There is every reason for us to act on other reforms with the same sense of purpose and demonstration of responsibility in evidence on this measure.”