Virginia House Republican leaders propose $100 gift cap

state-capitol2Virginia House of Delegates Republican leaders on Wednesday proposed a $100 gift cap on both tangible and intangible gifts. Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford), Majority Leader Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights), Caucus Chairman Timothy D. Hugo (R-Fairfax), Majority Whip Jackson Miller (R-Manassas) and Deputy Majority Leader Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) issued the following statement.

“The General Assembly enacted a strong set of reforms to Virginia’s ethics, transparency and disclosure laws during the 2014 session. The legislation passed implemented a limited gift cap, created a statewide ethics advisory panel, increased the frequency of disclosure filings, clarified reporting requirements for spouses, immediate family and personal friends, and required mandatory ethics training for elected officials.

“These reforms were intended to improve transparency, promote greater accountability and help restore the public’s trust and confidence in both state government and those who serve. As the Speaker and Majority Leader Norment wrote in September, it is clear that additional steps are necessary to regain the confidence of the public.

“There are a number of areas where we believe additional reforms are necessary, but in our view the most important reform needed is a clear and strict cap on gifts. The $250 cap proposed by Governor Terry McAuliffe’s ethics commission is a step forward, but we believe the public is demanding more. We are proposing and will support during the 2015 session a $100 aggregate gift cap on both tangible and intangible gifts. We believe this is a necessary and reasonable standard that both lawmakers and the public can understand.

“This is one of several concepts that we will support during the 2015 session. We are continuing to evaluate potential reforms, including the recommendations made by the Governor’s commission, and expect to make additional announcements before the start of session.

“As we have said before, the ultimate responsibility to enact the needed reforms rests with the General Assembly. The actions we take will be an important step toward our goal of regaining the trust and confidence of the citizens of the Commonwealth. We recognize, however, that passing legislation alone is not enough. Regaining the trust of our fellow citizens will require elected leaders to do more than just pass laws setting standards, it will also require elected leaders to meet those standards consistently and without question. We are confident that this proposal is a productive step toward that goal.”

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