As Lawmakers File Pricey Gift Disclosures, Reform Feels Like A Long Shot

May 30, 2017

Harrisburg lawmakers accepted over $145 thousand in hospitality, gifts, and other travel in 2016, according to recently-filed financial interest disclosure forms.

The commonwealth has one of the loosest laws for reporting those gifts in the country.

The filings are coming as advocates across the state make a renewed push to get lawmakers to impose regulations on the amount of money they can take.

Republican Representative Rick Saccone, of Allegheny County, said regulations governing what needs to be reported--like dinners--are also loose.

"We all get things from lobbyists and so forth," he said. "That's the culture up there."

Lawmakers are currently only required by law to report gifts worth $250 or more, or $650 from a single source on multiple occasions.

Saccone is sponsoring a measure to limit gifts. That bill has been the main subject of protesters' frustration because it spent this whole session--and last session as well--stuck in the House State Government Committee.

Butler County Republican Daryl Metcalfe is chair there, and he hasn't seemed inclined to move the bill.

Saccone is on the committee too, and said he's not hopeful much will change.

"I'm afraid that if that bill was brought up today in our committee, I'm not sure it would pass," he said, adding that he thinks it's a common sense reform--one that would likely pass if it ever made it to a full House vote.

"My colleagues will say, well Rick, you know my constituents aren't asking me about this. They aren't complaining about this," Saccone said. "And I say, that's because they think it's already the law. They're assuming we don't do these things."

Metcalfe didn't respond to a request for comment.