Commentary

Pa. lawmakers must stand with their constituents to approve a gift ban | Capital-Star Letters

Make your voices heard on Sept. 12 when the Pa. House returns for its fall session

September 2, 2022 6:30 am

Members of the Pennsylvania House applaud newly elected Speaker Bryan Cutler on June 22, 2020. (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)

By Randall Hayes

Capital-Star readers know about the push for a legislative gift ban. They know that legal bribery in Pennsylvania, where our legislators can take unlimited gifts and favors from big-money special interests, is a major reason why laws that benefit the rich pass and popular reforms go nowhere.

The greed of some of our legislators has made headlines, and distrust of our leaders is leading to a distrust in our neighbors. A recent poll by the University of Chicago found that a majority of Americans believe the government is “corrupt and rigged against everyday people like me.” The study also found that both Republicans (74 percent)  and Democrats (73 percent) believe each other “are generally bullies who want to impose their political beliefs on those who disagree.”

Pushing for a gift ban, activists tear down ‘Wall of Corruption’ outside Pa. Capitol

We can do better, and a Gift Ban is a commonsense first step. Gift ban legislation (HB1009) sponsored by state Rep. Aaron D. Kaufer, R-Luzerneunanimously cleared the House State Government Committee in October 2021. Since, House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, R_Centre, has refused to bring it to a vote before the full House.

This issue is too important to ignore. Therefore, when the House returns to session on Sept. 12, our anti-corruption group MarchOnHarrisburg, and some daring legislators, are going to force the House to vote on Kaufer’s bill, and make lawmaker bribery illegal.

To our Central Pennsylvania lawmakers: Will you have the courage to bypass Benninghoff, take personal responsibility, and vote “Yes” on the Gift Ban on Sep. 12? I’ll be monitoring the “Majority Against Corruption” map at for your commitment and I’ll be watching your vote on Sept. 12.

Randall Hayes, of the good government group MarchOnHarrisburg, writes from Harrisburg.

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