Davis: Fixing Harrisburg means ending gifts

Lawmaker’s reform bill would ban gifts valued over $25

HARRISBURG, April 8 – State Rep. Tina Davis, D-Bucks, today said she has introduced legislation that would prohibit public officials and candidates in Pennsylvania from accepting any gift valued at more than $25.

“Pennsylvanians are disgusted by failures to pass a budget on time, eliminate property taxes and even to put the state on a path to prosperity,” Davis said. “People want reform – I want reform – but the fact is that true reform requires eliminating the gifts special interests lavish on government officials.”

House Bill 1983 would prohibit public officials and candidates in Pennsylvania from accepting any gift, as defined by the state Ethics Act, over $25. It would exclude gifts lawmakers receive from relatives and friends. Plaques or other commemorative items, and donations from Pennsylvania companies or businesses used for promotional or informational purposes, also would be exempt from the ban.

“Harrisburg is broken, and enough is enough,” said Davis, who has introduced gift ban legislation in previous sessions. “We need to reduce the influence of special interests in our politics and return control of our government to the people.

“Harrisburg’s focus has been broken and backward – uncompromising on budgets and legislation but turning a blind eye on the underlying factors that make compromise next to impossible in the Capitol,” Davis said. “The governor's gift ban for the executive branch shows that such a ban can work while reducing the public's concerns that gifts may be used by special interests and others as instruments of persuasion and undue influence.”

Davis’ gift ban legislation is part of a larger package of reform bills by House Democrats to improve government transparency and effectiveness, and to restore confidence in the people who elect to serve the public.