North Country
3:40 pm
Tue January 1, 2013

Bill Would Increase Allowable Gifts to Legislators

Audio of newscast

Among the bills to be considered by the legislature in 2013 is one that would significantly increase the value of a gift that could be accepted by legislators, who are paid only $100 a year.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

Last year Edmond Gionet, a Republican rep from Lincoln, asked the legislative ethics committee whether it was okay for him to accept free ski passes to Cannon Mountain.

Gionet volunteers on Cannon Mountain’s advisory board and he saw the tickets as a nice thank-you.

But tickets normally cost $70 and when he checked with the state’s legislative ethics committee he was advised that was beyond the $25 maximum set by law.

And, that had another impact, too.

They took all the skiing privileges away from all the reps in the House because doing the math on it exceeded the monetary figure that was embedded in the legislation.”

Gionet says as drafted his bill would increase the acceptable value of a gift from $25 to something around $250.

That would allow a legislator to accept tickets to a circus or some other event, he says.

“I don’t see that it interferes with a legislator conducting themselves as representatives of the people by attending these functions it is sort of a thank-you to us from these entities for the services we are providing.”

Another bill being proposed by Democrat Gary Coulombe of Berlin would give all legislators free passes to Cannon Mountain. He did not return several calls from NHPR.

For NHPR News this is Chris Jensen