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deleonethics.JPGThe California Senate on Monday advanced a measure to crack down on special-interest gifts to lawmakers.

The upper house unanimously passed Senate Bill 1443. It would reduce the value of gifts officials can receive from a single source to $200 from the current $440.

Sen. Kevin de León, the author of the measure, said it amounted to one of the most significant reforms since passage of the Political Reform Act of 1974. It follows federal corruption charges against Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, and Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, and a record fine by the state ethics watchdog against lobbyist Kevin Sloat for hosting fundraisers at his Sacramento home.

De León's bill would ban all gifts from lobbyists (they currently can give a gift of up to $10 a month to each elected official), and prohibit elected officials from accepting certain gifts that the author believes lack legislative merit. Such gifts include tickets to concerts, sports venues and amusement parks; spa services and rounds of golf; cash and gift cards.

The bill is part of a package of proposed changes that, among other things, would ban campaign fundraisers at lobbyists' homes and require fundraising committees to file campaign finance reports four times a year.

PHOTO: Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, talks about the proposed California Accountability in Public Service Act during a Capitol news conference where he and other Democratic lawmakers announced a package of bills intended to impose new rules on public officials, on March 6, 2014. At right is State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and at left is Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens. The Sacramento Bee/ Renée C. Byer


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