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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Football Season Revives Question About Free Tickets For Lawmakers

Bobak Ha'Eri

College football season is here. That means some Washington lawmakers are receiving invitations to attend Husky and Cougar games.

The state’s Legislative Ethics Board clarified Thursday that lawmakers are not permitted to accept free tickets for themselves and family members. However, it is OK for a legislator to attend a game as the guest of the president and sit in the president’s box.

“If you’re there with university officials and talking presumably about legislative issues over the course of a game that’s the kind of normal socializing that the Act appears to have anticipated,” explains state Representative Jamie Pedersen, who serves on the Legislative Ethics Board.

The Act Pedersen refers to is the state’s ethics law. Generally it bars lawmakers from receiving gifts worth more than $50.

But there are exceptions. One is for meals to discuss legislative business. The other is to attend a community event at the invitation of a governmental entity – such as a university.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."