Lawmakers get started on bills aimed at lobbyist influence

Regional News

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania’s state House of Representatives on Monday began advancing a package of bills aimed at lobbyist influence, including limiting gifts from lobbyists and prohibiting lobbyists from trying to influence an elected official for whom they also worked as a campaign strategist.

The bills won passage in the House State Government Committee, and require floor votes in both the House and Senate to get to Gov. Tom Wolf.

One of the centerpiece bills would bar state officials, including lawmakers, from letting a lobbyist pay for their transportation, lodging, recreation or entertainment, and limiting gifts from lobbyists to $250 in value each year.

Wolf in 2015 banned employees under his jurisdiction from accepting gifts of any amount, but lawmakers still allow themselves to accept gifts in unlimited quantities from anyone seeking to influence them.

Lawmakers and other candidates for state office can still accept campaign contributions in any amount from anyone, including lobbyists and people who get state contracts

Another centerpiece bill is aimed at lobbyists or lobbying firms that double as campaign consultants.

Under it, the lobbyist would be prohibited from lobbying a state official or an employee on the official’s staff after they had served as a campaign consultant to the official.

The prohibition lasts for that elected term and also applies to a lobbyist who had a financial interest in a firm that provided campaign services.

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