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Senate approves new rule on state gift reporting

Published: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 11:30 a.m. CDT

DES MOINES (AP) — Executive branch staff in Iowa could be held to a higher standard of accountability under a rule approved Monday by the Senate that would require employees to report gifts worth more than $100 to the state ethics board.

The Iowa Senate unanimously passed the bill proposed by the state Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board. The bill now awaits House approval.

Current law limits gifts public workers can accept, such as travel reimbursement or lunches, but there is no requirement to report those gifts to the ethics board. The rules would apply to employees in the governor’s office and state agencies and boards, including the Iowa Board of Regents.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Jeff Danielson, D-Cedar Falls, said the legislation grew out of a case in 2011, when Iowa Education Department Director Jason Glass was accused of accepting a free trip to Brazil. The ethics board later dismissed the complaint.

Danielson said requiring employees to report such gifts would allow for public awareness and more transparency in state government.

“This information can be used by Iowans to judge for themselves whether or not the boundaries that can lead to corruption have been crossed,” he said Monday.