Honorarium Restrictions

9/30/2019

The U.S. Office of Government Ethics defines "honorarium" as a payment of money or anything of value for a "series of appearances, speeches, or articles if the subject matter is directly related to the individual's official duties or the payment is made because of the individual's status with the Government." Most states define honoraria similarly.

About half of states prohibit legislators from receiving honoraria if given for a matter related to a legislator’s official duties. Most prohibiting states exempt payment if related to a legislator's private profession or occupation. All states that prohibit honorarium allow for certain expense reimbursements, such as for travel, lodging, food or beverage.

The other roughly-half of states permit the receipt of honoraria. Most of the allowing states require disclosure of honoraria, but some do not address honorarium in statute. In the absence of statutory direction, more general laws govern, such as those that prohibit conflicts of interest or require income disclosure. States that allow honorarium typically stipulate that any payment received must not influence a legislator's official duties.

The following table lists each state, territory, and D.C.’s laws relating to honoraria given or offered to state legislators. Note: The singular "honorarium" and plural "honoraria" are often confused.

This table is intended to provide general information and does not necessarily address all aspects of this topic. Because the facts of each situation may vary, this information may need to be supplemented by consulting legal advisors. All content is up to date through 9/30/2019.

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State Legislation Addressing Honoraria
State Laws on Legislators Accepting Honorarium

Alabama

Honoraria is included in the definition of a "thing of value."  Ala. Code § 36-25-1.

Gift of a "thing of value" allowed only if received in an official capacity for advice or assistance on matters concerning the legislature or if it is not given with the purpose of influencing legislation or official action. Ala. Code § 36-25-7.

Alaska

May not accept payment of anything of value, except for actual and necessarily incurred travel expenses, for an appearance or speech by the legislator or legislative employee. Alaska Stat. Ann. § 24.60.085.

May accept payment for an appearance or speech if unconnected with the person's legislative status. Alaska Stat. Ann. § 24.60.085.

Arizona

Honorarium allowed as long as properly reported and not otherwise prohibited. Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 41-1232.02 & 41-1231.

Arkansas

No member shall solicit or accept compensation for speeches or other appearances before a group of persons unless the appearance is made as part of the normal course of business in the legislative member's private occupation. Ark. Code Ann. § 5-52-108.

California

Honorarium defined at Cal. Gov't Code § 89501.

No state officer shall accept any honorarium. Cal. Gov't Code § 89502.

Colorado

No public officer, member of the general assembly, local government official, or government employee, shall solicit, accept or receive any gift or other thing of value having either a fair market value or aggregate actual cost greater than $50 in any calendar year, including honoraria. Colo. Const. art. XXIX, § 3.

Connecticut

No public official, spouse of the Governor or state employee shall accept a fee or honorarium for an article, appearance or speech, or for participation at an event, in the person's official capacity, provided such person may receive payment or reimbursement for necessary expenses for any such activity in his or her official capacity. Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 1-84.

Delaware

Financial disclosures require reporting any honoraria received. Del. Code Ann. tit. 29, § 5813.

District of Columbia

Must disclose honoraria in excess of $200 during a calendar year. D.C. Code Ann. § 1-1162.24.

Florida

Defines “honorarium” as a means a payment as consideration for an oral presentation or writing other than a book. Fla. Stat. Ann. § 112.3149.

Prohibition from soliciting an honorarium which is related to the reporting individual's or procurement employee's public office or duties. Fla. Stat. Ann. § 112.3149.

Prohibition from knowingly accepting an honorarium from a political committee, from a vendor doing business with the reporting individual's agency, from a lobbyist who lobbies the reporting individual's or procurement employee's agency, or from the employer, principal, partner, or firm of such a lobbyist. Fla. Stat. Ann. § 112.3149.

Georgia

No public officer other than a public officer elected state wide shall accept a monetary fee or honorarium in excess of $100.00 for a speaking engagement, participation in a seminar, discussion panel, or other activity which directly relates to the official duties of that public officer or the office of that public officer. Ga. Code Ann. § 21-5-11.

No public officer elected state wide shall accept any monetary fee or honorarium for a speaking engagement, participation in a seminar, discussion panel, or other such activity. Ga. Code Ann. § 21-5-11.

Guam

Disclosures required of public officials include the names and addresses of all persons and organizations from whom any honorarium was received by the official or candidate or on his behalf with his knowledge and consent. 4 G.C.A. § 13104.

Hawaii

Honorarium not explicitly mentioned, which places rules regarding honorarium under general provisions regarding the acceptance of gifts or compensation. Haw. Rev. Stat. § 84-1 et seq.

Idaho

Permitted at a rate determined by the Citizens' Committee on Legislative Compensation. Idaho Code Ann. § 67-406b.

Illinois

No member of the General Assembly shall accept any honorarium. 5 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. 420/2-110.

Indiana

A member may not receive an honorarium for an appearance or a speech made or given in the member's capacity as a legislator. Ind. Code Ann. § 2-2.2-5-3.

Iowa

A public official or employee may not seek or accept an honorarium from a restricted donor. Iowa Code Ann. § 68B.23.

A public official or employee may accept an honorarium from any person if: a. The honorarium consists of payment of actual expenses of a done in return for participation in a panel or speaking engagement at a meeting. b. The honorarium consists of a nonmonetary item or items that the public official or public employee donates within 30 days to a public body, an educational or charitable organization, or the department of administrative services. c. The honorarium consists of a payment made to a public official or employee for services rendered as part of a private business, trade, or profession in which the public official or public employee is engaged if the payment is commensurate with the actual services rendered and is not being made because of the person's status as a public official or employee, but, rather, because of some special expertise or other qualification. Iowa Code Ann. § 68B.23.

Kansas

No state officer or employee shall accept any payment of honoraria for any speaking engagement except that a member of the state legislature or a part-time officer or employee of the executive branch of government shall be allowed to receive reimbursement in the preparation for and the making of a presentation at a speaking engagement in an amount fixed by the commission prior to the acceptance of the speaking engagement. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 46-237.

Kentucky

A legislator shall not accept any compensation in consideration for an appearance, speech, or article unless related to the legislator's employment outside the General Assembly and is unrelated to his or her position as a legislator. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 6.747.

Louisiana

General prohibition applies to honorarium, with exceptions for the reimbursement of reasonable expenses such as food and lodging. La. Stat. Ann. § 42:1123 & 42:1111.

Maine

Must disclose honoraria of $2,000 or more received. Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 1, § 1016-G.

No other limits or prohibitions specific to honoraria, although the receipt may be subject to general provisions on the receipt of gifts, income disclosure requirements, conflict of interest prohibitions, and so on.

Maryland

A member or member-elect of the General Assembly may not accept an honorarium. M.D. Gen. Provis. § 5-505.

Exception for an official or employee who is not a member or member-elect of the General Assembly: reasonable expenses for food, travel, lodging, or scheduled entertainment of the official or employee if the expenses are associated with the meeting, except that, if such expenses for a State official of the Legislative or Executive Branch are to be paid by a regulated lobbyist and are anticipated to exceed $500, the official shall notify the appropriate advisory body before attending the meeting. M.D. Gen. Provis. § 5-505.

Massachusetts

Honoraria over $100 must be disclosed if the source is a legislative agent or an individual having direct interest in legislation, legislative action, or a matter before a government body, or if the recipient is a public employee and the honoraria source is a person having direct interest in a matter before the governmental body by which the recipient is employed. Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 268B, § 5.

Michigan

A legislator shall not accept an honorarium. Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 169.250.

Minnesota

 Required disclosure of honorarium in excess of $50. Minn. Stat. Ann. § 10A.09.

Mississippi

Not addressed in the statute, so honoraria are presumably allowed and governed by general income disclosure requirements. Miss. Code. Ann. § 25-4-27.

Missouri

Required disclosure of honorarium in excess of $300. Mo. Ann. Stat. § 105.485.

Montana

Not specifically addressed by statute; subject to general ethics provisions at Mont. Code Ann. § 2-2-101 et seq.

Nebraska

Not specifically addressed by statute; subject to general ethics provisions at Neb. Rev. Stat. § 49-1401 et seq.

Nevada

A public officer or public employee shall not accept or receive an honorarium. Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 281A.510. Limits to the prohibition include for work performed outside the normal course of a person's public office, honorarium received by a spouse if related to a spouse's profession or occupation, and other exceptions at Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 281A.510.

New Hampshire

Allowed, except: no public official or public employee shall accept an honorarium from a person who is subject to or likely to become subject to or interested in any matter or action pending before, or contemplated by, the public official, public employee, or the governmental body with which that person is affiliated. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 15-B:4.

New Jersey

General prohibition against accepting honorarium, subject to exceptions. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 52:13D-24.1.

New Mexico

Cannot accept honorarium, defined as anything over a $100 payment of money or other thing of value excluding reasonable reimbursement for expenses (food, lodging, and so on). N.M. Stat. Ann. § 10-16-4.1.

New York

Prohibition from accepting or soliciting honorarium, other than that which is paid in consideration for a speech given on a topic unrelated to public employment or as earned income from personal services customarily provided in connection with the practice of a bona fide business, trade or profession, such as teaching, practicing law, medicine or banking, unless the sole or predominant activity thereof is making speeches. N.Y. Pub. Off. Law § 73.

North Carolina

A "covered person" is a legislator, public servant, or judicial officer. N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 163A-152. A covered person or legislative employee shall not accept honorarium from a source other than the employing entity for conducting any activity, if: employing entity reimburses for travel, subsistence, and registration; employing entity's work time or resources are used, or; the activity would be considered official duty or would bear a reasonably close relationship to the person or employee's official duties. An outside source may reimburse the employing entity. N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 138A-32.

North Dakota

Not addressed by statute; subject to general ethics provisions at N.D. Cent. Code § 16.1-09-01 et seq.

Ohio

Prohibition from accepting or soliciting honorarium, subject to exceptions. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 102.03.

Oklahoma

No prohibition or limits on honorarium, except those that apply generally to income disclosures or conflict of interest provisions at Okla. Stat. tit 74, § 1.1 et seq.

Oregon

A public official may not solicit or receive honoraria for the public official or any member of the household of the public official if the honoraria are solicited or received in connection with the official duties of the public official. Or. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 244.042.

Pennsylvania

No public official or public employee shall accept an honorarium. 65 Pa. Stat. and Cons. Stat. Ann. § 1103.

Puerto Rico

Honoraria are not mentioned in Puerto Rico's statutes, so they may be allowed provided that an honorarium complies with other provisions, such as the provisions governing the receipt of gifts.

Rhode Island

No relevant statutory provision was located. However, the Rhode Island Ethics Commission Regulation 36-14-5010 permits receipt of an honorarium only if: (1) the source of the honorarium is an individual or entity for which the official or employee is not vested with decision making authority within his or her official duties and responsibilities; and (2) the official or employee, when engaging in or preparing for the activity, uses his or her own time and does not make improper use of state or municipal materials or resources.

South Carolina

May only receive reimbursement for expenses related to speaking engagements. S.C. Code Ann. § 8-13-715. Honoraria do not appear to be allowed.

South Dakota

Honoraria are not mentioned specifically, so they may be allowed provided that an honorarium complies with other provisions, such as  the provisions governing the receipt of gifts.

Tennessee

The acceptance of an honorarium by a public official in such person's capacity as a public official is prohibited. “Honorarium” means a payment of money or any thing of value for an appearance, speech or article, but does not include actual and necessary travel expenses, meals and lodging associated with such appearance, speech or article. Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-10-116.

Acceptance of an honorarium for an appearance, speech or article by a public official in such person's capacity as a private business person, professional or tradesperson is not prohibited. Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-10-116.

Texas

Cannot accept honoraria for services the public servant would not have provided but for the public servant's official position or duties. Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 36.07. Does not prohibit necessary expenses such as transportation.

Utah

Honoraria are not mentioned specifically in Utah's statutes, so they may be allowed provided that an honorarium complies with other provisions, such as  the provisions governing the receipt of gifts.

Vermont

Honoraria is included in the definition of "gift" for the purposes of the section on legislative lobbyists, therefore the general rules that apply to gifts in the context of lobbying may also apply to honoraria. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 2, § 261.

Virginia

No legislator shall: Accept any honoraria for any appearance, speech, or article in which the legislator provides expertise or opinions related to the performance of his official duties. The prohibition does not include reimbursement for reasonable expenses, such as for travel and lodging. Va. Code Ann. § 30-103. 

Virgin Islands

For every "statutory officer" and others, honoraria over $300 must be reported on financial interest statements. 3 V.I.C. § 1105. "Statutory officer" includes members of the legislature. 3 V.I.C. § 1101.

Washington

No state officer or employee may receive honoraria unless specifically authorized by the agency where they serve as state officer or state employee. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 42.52.130.

Legislators and legislative employees are prohibited from receiving an honorarium in connection with their official role. Ethics Board Manual 2017, p. 5.

West Virginia

Guidelines for acceptance of a reasonable honorarium established by the ethics commission, so long as it is not provided in exchange for any promise or action on the part of the public official. W. Va. Code Ann. § 6B-2-5.

Prohibits receipt of an honoraria unless it is donated and reported to the ethics commission. Part-time officials may receive honorarium if it is unrelated to their office and is professional in nature. Leg. Rules W.V. Ethics Comm. § 158-7-2.3 & 2.4.

Wisconsin

Must report honorarium of a value in excess of $50, excluding incidental food or beverage but including lodging, transportation or any other thing of value received. Wis. Stat. Ann. § 19.56.

No public official, public member or public employee shall use his office or position for his private benefit. Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 9-13-103.

Wyoming

Honorarium included in the definition of "anything of value." A "gift" is defined as a thing of value to the extent that consideration of equal or greater value is not received, so that an honorarium may be considered a gift. Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 9-13-102.

No public official, public member or public employee shall use his office or position for his private benefit. “Private benefit” means the receipt by the public official, public member or public employee of a gift which resulted from his holding that office. Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 9-13-103.