The bill (SB 1424) is an ugly leviathan. It’s far too long (98 pages) and has more definitions than a Webster’s Dictionary. I’m glad to say I had no part in drafting it.
Basically all gifts over $100 are banned, except from family or personal friends. There are a number of carve-outs, including invites to “widely-attended gatherings” and ceremonial dinners as well as honorary plaques, educational trips, etc. This includes both tangible and intangible gifts, so no more tickets to the Dominion Box at FedEx Field or Verizon Center.
This bill was far too complicated. All it needed to do was ban gifts to lawmakers by persons seeking state business. That’s enough — and covers Johnnie Williams.
The law will not took effect until January 1, 2016 so it will not capture political candidates (who may be having a free dinner as we speak). This bill has a lot of flaws, but so does the money culture in Richmond.
Like most ugly bills, it passed unanimously 36-0.
And we’re done for the session.