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California Association of Private Postsecondary Schools

Bill to limit gifts to California lawmakers dies a quiet death

08/17/2012

The Sacramento Bee - August 17, 2012:

Legislation to restrict free tickets and other gifts to lawmakers died quietly Thursday without a public vote in an election year.

The measure targeted freebies ranging from golf outings to spa treatments given by individuals or groups that hire lobbyists.

The Assembly Appropriations Committee shelved Senate Bill 1426, so it will not reach the Assembly floor and no committee member will be on record opposing it.

Republican Sen. Sam Blakeslee of San Luis Obispo pushed the bill and has proposed a similar crackdown for several years in a row.

Each year, such restrictions hit a brick wall in the Legislature.

California already imposes strict gift limits on lobbyists and lobbying firms, which cannot give lawmakers gifts exceeding $10 per month.

But groups or individuals that hire lobbyists or lobbying firms can buy a lawmaker gifts totaling up to $420 per year.

SB 1426 targeted golf, skiing, hunting or fishing trips, as well as gift cards and tickets to theme parks, racetracks, and professional sporting events.

The measure also would have barred tickets costing more than $25 to concert, theater, or collegiate or amateur sporting events.

Exceptions were made for events raising money for charity.

In 2008, state legislators reported receiving $12,708 in theme park tickets, Blakeslee told legislative committees analyzing SB 1426.

In 2009, $4,297 was spent on sporting event tickets, he added.

"Rounds of golf, tickets to the racetrack and concert passes all are handed to state senators and Assembly members with the intent to gain access and favor," he told the committees.

"These egregious gifts do not help elected officials legislate more effectively and ultimately damage public opinion of Sacramento leadership."