'Stop taking bribes,' protesters urge Pennsylvania lawmakers

The Associated Press
Demonstrators from MarchOnHarrisburg stand outside Pennsylvania's Capitol to press lawmakers to pass legislation banning them from taking gifts from lobbyists and others aiming to influence them, Wednesday, June 9, 2021, in Harrisburg, Pa. The Pennsylvania Legislature does not limit how much lawmakers can accept from lobbyists and others seeking to influence them. (AP Photo/Marc Levy)

HARRISBURG — Urging lawmakers to "stop taking bribes," demonstrators returned to Pennsylvania's Capitol on Wednesday to press lawmakers to pass legislation banning them from taking gifts from lobbyists and others aiming to influence them.

Demonstrators from MarchOnHarrisburg unfurled banners on the Capitol steps and chanted "pass the gift ban, stop taking bribes."

MarchOnHarrisburg demonstrators have been arrested several times in the past during protests in lawmakers' offices and the House chamber. 

Gift-ban legislation is routinely introduced and sees no action, despite pledges from top lawmakers to support it. 

Lobbyists and advocacy groups in Pennsylvania routinely give lawmakers free meals, travel and tickets to expensive sporting or entertainment events.

The Pennsylvania Legislature is an outlier in that it does not limit how much lawmakers can accept from lobbyists and others, and much of it does not have to be reported publicly. 

Gifts of at least $250 in the aggregate must be reported, unless the person giving it is a friend or family member. Lawmakers also must report transportation, lodging or hospitality expenses that add up to at least $650.

Most other states have laws limiting the extent of gifts that lawmakers may accept, according to the National Conference on State Legislatures.

Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, imposed a gift ban on executive branch employees under his authority after taking office in 2015.