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House To Vote On Ethics Bill

The House takes up a sweeping ethics bill Thursday that would tighten rules and penalties for lawmakers and the people who lobby them.

The House bill increases fines and prison sentences for bribery, gives more investigatory and enforcement power to state authorities and expands the definition of a lobbyist. It bans gifts from lobbyists to public officials but allows gifts from other parties. Former state ethics commission chairman George Brown says the gift omission is disappointing, but applauds the bill overall.

"This is the first time in many years that legislation this comprehensive has been on the floor in the Massachusetts legislature I mean I think its just extraordinary," Brown says.

The House bill is closely aligned with a proposal from Governor Patrick. The Senate has not yet offered an ethics reform plan.

This program aired on March 26, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

Martha Bebinger Twitter Reporter
Martha Bebinger covers health care and other general assignments for WBUR.

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