June 17, 2014 •
WA Legislative Ethics Board Considers Infrequent Occasions
Section 42.52.420 of the Revised Code of Washington allows public officials to accept gifts in the form of food and beverage on infrequent occasions. In recent months, “infrequent occasions” has come under scrutiny after a widely-read report showed the state’s 50 most active lobbyists treated legislators to meals totaling more than $65,000 over a four-month period.
After the Legislature failed to pass any pertinent legislation before its adjournment on March 13, 2014, the Legislative Ethics Board took up the issue. The board held a meeting on June 17, 2014, to review proposals received from the public related to how to define infrequent occasions.
All of the proposals considered by the board would require legislators to file a report upon receiving a free meal. Stricter proposals set the dollar amount threshold for reporting the meal at $5 and the amount of free meals per year at three to five. Others set the threshold at $25 and allow 52 free meals per year. One especially ambitious proposal would require a reduction in a legislator’s per diem allowance for every free meal he or she accepts.
The board will continue to take public comment on the issue and will reconvene on August 19, 2014, to further consider public proposals.
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