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Pa. Senate OKs Bill To Ban Cash Gifts to Legislators; House Future Uncertain

(The state capitol in Harrisburg.  File photo)

(The state capitol in Harrisburg. File photo)

(Capitol dome, Harrisburg, Pa.   File photo) Tony Romeo
  Tony Romeo is Harrisburg bureau chief for KYW Newsradio...
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By Tony Romeo

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) — The Pennsylvania state senate today passed and sent to the House legislation that would make it illegal for public officials to accept cash gifts from people seeking to influence public policy.

The bill passed by the senate would make it felony to accept cash gifts over $250.  Under $250, it would be a misdemeanor.

Until the law is changed, the state senate today also approved a rule change that will immediately ban gifts.

State senator Anthony Williams (D-Phila.) says it’s a first step toward reconnecting with voters.

“All voters have a perspective, unfortunately, in Pennsylvania -– and increasingly across America –- that those of us who serve the public do it for our own self-interests,” he said today.

Gov. Corbett says he’ll sign the bill if it gets to his desk, but there was no immediate plan to move gift-ban legislation in the House.

A spokesman for House majority Republican leaders says they are awaiting other developments regarding an aborted sting operation (see related story), including any report that may be issued by the House Ethics Committee.

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