Food and beverages are likely the most common types of gifts offered to legislators. Snacks and drinks may be provided at meetings or conferences. Individuals may offer to pay for a public official's meal as a gesture of respect or appreciation. But gifts of any kind, including food and beverage, have the potential to create the appearance of a conflict of interest.
Some states restrict all gifts of food or beverage, while others do the exact opposite by exempting food and beverage from all gift restrictions. Most states establish minimum amounts, under which a gift of food or beverage may not be restricted. Exceptions are common for meals provided at widely attended events or to event participants. Restrictions may apply only to lobbyists. Restrictions may apply to anyone other than family. Some states apply different limits on the value of consumables that may be provided by lobbyists, which may also be different if the giver of the gift is a principal. Gifts of food or beverage motivated by friendship are also exempted from limits in some jurisdictions.
This 50-state survey provides state and territorial statutory prohibitions on the giving and receipt of consumables to legislators. Some chamber rules may provide additional restrictions not reflected in this survey. For additional relevant information, refer to NCSL's survey of disclosure requirements for gifts and honoraria.
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 3/13/2018.
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