Not All Gifting Is Good (letter)

This letter was originally printed in The York Dispatch.

Sharing gifts during the holiday season gives us an opportunity to show love and affection for family and friends. Yes, it can sometimes include stress, excessive shopping and lingering credit card bills, but it is a meaningful part of the holiday nonetheless.

The year-round gift-giving in state government, however, is not such a good tradition. Lobbyists use this tactic to exercise influence over legislators, even if the exchange is only subtle and implied. Surprisingly, this act is not illegal, unless a gift is an explicit agreement to support a given bill.

I propose to redraw the line for honesty and fairness in the House.

Some government groups in Harrisburg are pushing for legislation to ban such gifting. House Bill 39 was introduced about a year ago and it will make it illegal for public officials and/or state employees to “solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, any transportation, lodging or hospitality or anything of economic value as a gift from any person” who seeks a contractual or business relationship, or any person who is compensated to influence the passage or defeat of legislation, i.e. lobbyists.

As 11 months passed without any sensible discussion of the bill, York delegates in the House continue to ignore it. A concerned representative would not dismiss this major issue of potential fraud and corruption.

As his opponent in the election of November 2018, I request that Stan Saylor, R-Windsor Township, who represents our 94th House district, co-sponsor the bill and use his influence as a committee chair to move it to a vote.

Legislators earn enough. Augmenting their salaries through gifts is inappropriate and can lead to corruption. Let’s work to end this tradition of exchanging gifts for favors in the House and focus instead on sharing gifts with our loved ones this upcoming holiday season.

Steve Snell