Cash-ban legislation heads to House
The state House is expected to consider a bill co-sponsored by a Lancaster senator aimed at curbing corruption in state and local government.
Senate Bill 1327, put forth by Sen. Lloyd Smucker, R-Lancaster, and Sen. Lisa Baker, R-Dallas, was passed unanimously by the Senate on Wednesday. The measure has not yet been assigned to a committee in the House, but likely it will go to the State Government Committee, said Matt Parido, Smucker's chief of staff. No timeline has been established.
Also, the Senate State Government Committee, of which Smucker is chairman, will hold a hearing April 28 to look at more reforms regarding non-cash gifts, such as hospitality and entertainment.
Senate Bill 1327, which was moved out of committee on Monday, would 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 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 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.
In the meantime, the Senate also approved Senate Resolution 339, which places a similar ban on cash gifts to senators and their staff.
"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 in a news release from the state Senate Republican Caucus. "This is our chance to strengthen ethical standards, and we must seize the opportunity."