CHARLESTON – The West Virginia Senate today by a unanimous vote passed House Bill 2457, a bill that would prevent elected officials from placing their name or likeness on materials or items that were paid for with public funds.
House of Delegates Assistant Majority Whip Kelli Sobonya, R-Cabell, was the lead sponsor of the bill informally known as the “Trinkets Bill.” It seeks to curb the use of taxpayer dollars for self-promotion by public officials through items such as trinkets, advertising campaigns, and on publicly owned vehicles.
“I first introduced this legislation 11 years ago because of my frustration with public officials using taxpayer funds for self-promotion. This unethical practice can add up to millions of dollars each year,” Delegate Sobonya said. “Balancing our state budget will be very challenging, and it is past time for legislators to respect the taxpayer and end this unsavory practice of self-promotion on the public dime.”
The bill is one of several good government initiatives to pass this session. Senate Majority Whip Daniel Hall, R-Wyoming, said this legislation shows a commitment to protecting the state’s taxpayers from abuse.
“This is just another way to show West Virginians that we are good stewards of their tax dollars, and we don’t support wasteful spending from rampant self-promotion,” Senator Hall said.
The bill passed the House of Delegates unanimously on Feb. 24. The legislation also received support from statewide officeholders.
“I applaud actions by lawmakers in both the House and Senate in passing a bill banning the use of taxpayer money to buy trinkets with an office holder's name or likeness and to reduce state government spending on self-promoting advertisements during an election year,” Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said. “This bill is about good government and wisely using taxpayers' hard-earned money.”
The bill has been sent to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin for his signature.