SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- House Rules Committee members let this year's lobbyist gift bill die by walking away from it.
They did not vote on the bill but instead drifted away one by one until they lost a quorum and ended the meeting Wednesday.
Year after year, legislation is offered to ban or regulate the gifts that legislators may receive. Most of the bills, which opponents contend impugn their integrity by implying they can be corrupted by a free meal or a Jazz basketball ticket, never get very far.
"People are really disillusioned ... yet legislators are just indignant that someone could think their vote could be bought for a $25 or $50 meal," Sandy Peck of the Utah League of Women Voters said Wednesday. "I have just one question: Why should legislators receive gifts?"
Committee members argued that the proposal of Rep. Ralph Becker, D-Salt Lake City, to ban gifts valued at more than $15 was too complex and unenforceable.
Committee member Chad Bennion, R-Murray, offered an amendment to ban all gifts -- even cheap trinkets valued at less than $1.
"If we are going to put a limit on gifts, let's not joke around with the $15 or whatever," Bennion said.
Bennion said he would voluntarily impose a ban on himself as a demonstration of good faith. Last year, Bennion accepted Jazz tickets worth $240, according to lobbyist disclosures. He also was among legislators given a free trip by Americans for Tax Reform to meet President Bush in Washington, he said.
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)