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Not understanding the law about gifts can lead to a fair amount of trouble for a lobbyist, the lobbyist's employer, and government officials. This summer, MultiState Associates conducted a comprehensive review of state gift laws for public officials and whether or not a lobbyist can provide gifts. Today, we'll take a quick look at three states: California, Georgia, and Michigan. All three of these states allow gifts, but the value differs.

In Georgia, a public official may accept a gift of up to $75 in value for each occurrence. However, food, beverages, and registration at group events (that other members of Georgia Legislature are attending) are exempt, as is travel for civic meetings and conferences. The public official and lobbying organization must disclose these gifts.

Michigan is a bit more lenient. There, a gift is defined as something with a value of more than $59 (indexed for inflation) and does not include food or beverages, a campaign contribution, something from immediate family, or a regular business loan. The registered lobbyist must disclose the gift.

In California, a lobbyist employer can provide up to $460 per calendar year aggregated to a public official, and individual lobbyists can give up to $10, all of which the official and the lobbyist must report.

This is just a small gift from your friends at MultiState to make sure that your organization is fully aware of the issues that government relations professionals face 365 days a year.