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All states prohibit gifts from being given or received if they influence action. Most states place restrictions on the gifts that legislators can receive and lobbyists can give. Due to the myriad exceptions to gift laws, it is difficult to neatly categorize them. The Center for Ethics in Government loosely divides them as such: zero tolerance or no cup of coffee, monetary gift thresholds, and bans if they influence official action. Many states require that lobbyists and legislators disclose gifts given or received.
Gift laws almost always include exceptions and nuances as to what is allowable. Alaska has a provision for "compassionate gifts;" in some states, gifts given for special occasions are permissible; in others, de minimis gifts, such as pens or calendars, are allowed. More than half the states exempt food and beverages from their gift laws, although other caveats are placed upon their acceptance. For example, in some states legislators can accept food if it is immediately consumed. Other laws stipulate that a few or all legislators must also be present at or invited to an event in order for one member to accept food. Costs such as transportation, lodging and meeting registrations also are sometimes listed.
States are evenly split on whether or not legislators should be allowed to accept honorariums for their speaking efforts. In half, they are prohibited if offered in connection with a legislator's official duties. Most states that prohibit honorariums allow reimbursement for travel, lodging and necessary expenses. In the other half, honorariums are allowed or are not specifically addressed in statute. Many states require lawmakers to disclose the sources and value of any gifts or honorariums they receive.
Here are the key issues covered in these documents:
Accepting gifts at outside meetings
Criminal penalties for public corruption/violations of ethics laws
Disclosure of gift and honorariums
Gift laws – restrictions, prohibitions, exceptions
Giving, receiving, and reporting food