The Day The Gift Bill Died

Rj Brown

The zombie-like life of a bill that would have drastically loosened gift rules for lawmakers and state employees is over.

SB 671 met its end Thursday in the House Judiciary Committee, which unanimously deferred the measure, signaling its death — at least for this year.

The bill started as good-government ethics legislation, proposing across-the-board reforms. But then Sen. Brickwood Galuteria got his hands on it and created an entirely different animal.

Galuteria in February proposed an amendment that would have permitted officials to accept unlimited food and beverage gifts, single gifts of up to $200 with no cap listed as to how many such gifts could be received from a single entity or person, and substantial travel opportunities not currently available.

That bill was eviscerated by a Senate committee after warnings by the State Ethics Commission. But then it was reborn, this time vastly expanding the definition of a charitable entity to include labor unions and business leagues.

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