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N.J. closer to banning legislator gifts from lobbyists

Time is running out for New Jersey legislators looking for freebies. The state Senate voted yesterday, 36-0, to bar legislators and their staff from accepting gifts from lobbyists. The bill needs Gov. Corzine's signature to become law.

Last year, state legislators received $45,500 in gifts from interests ranging from lobbyists to unions and public utilities. Those gifts included free meals, hotel rooms, golfing outings, train rides and Eagles tickets.

New Jersey law prohibits legislators from accepting gifts worth more than $250 from lobbyists. The state has seen continued concern about government corruption, with more than 100 officials convicted on federal charges in the last five years. The law would place New Jersey with states such as Massachusetts, South Carolina and Wisconsin that ban lawmakers from accepting any gifts from lobbyists, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

- AP