HARRISBURG – The House State Government Committee today reported out Rep. Justin Walsh’s (R-Westmoreland) legislation to ban public officials and employees from accepting cash gifts, prohibit the receipt of most gifts valued at $50 or more, and lower the threshold required to report hospitality, lodging and transportation.
“Public perception exists that significant gifts can cloud a public official or employee’s judgment,” Walsh said. “While it would be impossible to ban all gifts, as accepting a glass of water at a meeting could be viewed a gift, my legislation would bring greater accountability and transparency to the process. More disclosure about gifts accepted allows for further scrutiny of any biases.”
House Bill 2519
would amend the Public Official and Employee Ethics Act to prohibit public officials and employees from accepting cash gifts. The bill also would disallow the acceptance of gifts valued at $50 or more. Exceptions include those from a family member or close friend; campaign contributions; informational or educational materials; awards or prizes won as the result of competitions open to the public; honorary degrees; an honorarium; trainings; voluntary gifts exchanged between officials and their staffs; or something of de minimis economic impact such as a T-shirt. Finally, the bill would reduce the threshold for reporting gifts from $250 to $50 and the threshold for reporting transportation, lodging or hospitality from $650 to $100.
The bill now goes to the full House for consideration.
The 58th Legislative District in Westmoreland County includes Jeannette and Monessen cities, as well as East Huntingdon (part), Hempfield (part), Rostraver, Sewickley and South Huntingdon townships. Also, the district encompasses the boroughs of Adamsburg, Arona, Madison, Mount Pleasant, North Belle Vernon, Penn, Smithton, Sutersville and West Newton.
Representative Justin Walsh
58th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Tracy Polovick