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Gift Restrictions

Gift Restrictions

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GIFT LIMITS AND PROHIBITIONS

gift boxes Laws and rules limiting the gifts given to public officials are a perennial topic for state legislatures. A variety of approaches are used in the 50 states, including restrictions, outright prohibitions, and exemptions to those limits and prohibitions. Sift through the maze of gift laws with the Ethics Center's 50-state chart.

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HONORARIA

speaking at a podiumCan a legislator accept an honorarium for speaking engagements, writing an article, or serving on a panel? It depends on where you serve—states are equally divided on this issue.

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GIVING AND RECEIVING FOOD

SALT SHAKERWhen is it okay to eat or drink at a meeting or event? What other exemptions or conditions exist? Visit our chart to see 50 state requirements.

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DISCLOSURE

search key Laws and rules that require the disclosure of gifts and honoraria received and gifts given are an attempt to shine a light on potential conflicts of interest and lobbyists' and others' relationships with legislators.

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OVERVIEW | GIFT RESTRICTIONS

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.

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