Senators Prepare to Introduce Lobbyist Reform Package

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(Harrisburg, PA) – Senator Scott Wagner, Senator Ryan Aument, Senator Camera Bartolotta, Senator John Eichelberger, and Senator Guy Reschenthaler are circulating a co-sponsorship memo for a package of bills they plan to introduce in an effort to reform Pennsylvania’s lobbying system.

“We are all reform-minded individuals that were sent to Harrisburg to improve the way our state government works,” said Wagner. “Lobbyists have their place in the legislative process, but the influence they wield continues to grow exponentially and must be reined in.”

The legislative package being introduced is comprised of six bills that would do the following:

  • Require lobbyists to report anything of value provided to a State official or employee. (Sen. Wagner)
  • Add ‘Representing a membership organization’ to the definition of lobbyist. (Sen. Wagner)
  • Require a biennial audit of the lobbying community that is currently commissioned by the Department of State to be made public. (Sen. Aument)
  • Prohibit a lobbyist from owning, being a partner in, or serving as an officer or board member of any consulting firm which receives compensation for providing assistance with political campaigns. Also prohibits a lobbyist from working in a paid capacity for any political campaign. (Sen. Eichelberger)
  • Require anyone that must file a Statement of Financial Interest to disclose any immediate family member of theirs that is required to register under the Lobbying Disclosure Law. Additionally, requires anyone that must register under the Lobbying Disclosure Law to disclose any member of their immediate family that is required to file a Statement of Financial Interest. (Sen. Bartolotta)
  • Increase penalties for violations of the lobbyist law from $2,000 to $4,000, with penalties increasing for repeat violations. (Sen. Reschenthaler)

“If we are going to change the culture in Harrisburg, then we need commonsense reforms like the ones proposed here,” stated Senator Aument. “I am proud to support a bill that would let the public know which lobbyists are being compliant through the regular audits currently being conducted by the Department of State.  Sunshine is one of the most powerful tools we have in improving our government.”

Senator Eichelberger noted, “We have lobbyists that fundraise and operate the political campaigns of candidates running for State House and Senate seats. Those same political consultants then lobby the same members on legislative issues. The ability to run someone’s campaign and later ask for votes on legislative issues is an unacceptable situation, which I believe results in the wielding of far too much influence by the special interest groups the lobbyists represent.”

“It’s important this legislative package addresses all facets of lobbyist reform including those families who straddle two worlds with a spouse working within the General Assembly and the other working for a lobbying firm. No doubt, this information should be disclosed for public record,” said Bartolotta. “Ethical conduct, transparency and openness relating to government should be more than an aspiration, it should be a requirement.”

The Senate’s newest member, Senator Reschenthaler, stated “Increasing transparency and accountability are important aspects of removing the influence of special interests on the legislative process. This package is an important step forward in shifting power back into the hands of the general public and not a select few. I look forward to the positive discussions and investigations the introduction of these reforms will generate. I thank my colleagues for having the courage and fortitude to step up.”

Senator Wagner concluded, “The major measures the legislature continues to try to pass – pension reform, property tax elimination, liquor privatization – even the state budget – have been hindered because of the overwhelming outside influence of lobbyists. It is well-past time we bring accountability to this part of the legislative process.”

The Senators have just begun circulating the co-sponsorship memo and plan to introduce the package of legislation in the near future.

CONTACT:
Erin K. Marsicano, 717-787-3817,
emarsicano@pasen.gov (Sen. Wagner)
Jake Smeltz, 717-787-4420,
jsmeltz@pasen.gov (Sen. Aument)
Colleen Greer, 717-787-1463,
cgreer@pasen.gov (Sen. Bartolotta)
Lee Derr, 717-787-5490,
lderr@pasen.gov (Sen. Eichelberger)
Aaron Bonnaure, 717-787-5839,
abonnaure@pasen.gov (Sen. Reschenthaler)