- Associated Press - Monday, March 17, 2014

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A Minnesota Senate subcommittee on elections unanimously approved a bill Monday to reinforce a gift ban that was softened last year.

The exception passed last spring allowed lawmakers to get lobbyist-purchased meals at receptions as long as all legislators were invited.

Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, told the committee that he doesn’t think many people understand how the gift-ban change weakened a law that had been in full-force for two decades.

“This may seem like a small issue,” added Jeremy Schroeder, Common Cause Minnesota executive director. “This is a problem when people don’t believe in legitimacy of democracy.”

Under the state’s prior gift ban, lawmakers had to reimburse sponsoring group or lobbyists for the cost of meals.

The new law would take effect immediately if the full Senate approves it and Gov. Mark Dayton signs off. The House voted earlier this month to restore the gift ban.

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