November’s passage of Amendment 41, the “ethics in government” or “gift ban” amendment, has caused many public employees to wonder if they are included among those who are now unable to accept gifts over $50 (aside from gifts from family members on “special occasions,” which are not defined in the amendment.) The newspapers have been full of stories debating whether or not children of police officers can accept college scholarships or university researchers may accept a Nobel prize. This past week the Colorado Attorney General’s office issued a press release in response to inquiry by CU President Hank Brown on whether scenarios like these would indeed be the case. Also, following the election, Colorado’s Office of Legislative Legal Services issued a legal memorandum stating their analysis of this issue, with similar findings. Both seem to find that the plain wording of the amendment does impose these restrictions on most public employees, however, they agree it is likely that legislation will be introduced to clarify some of the gray areas. Although they do not draw firm conclusions, these two resources will provide important information to public employees wanting to know how this new law will affect them.
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