Senate Votes, PA Laws and Lobbyist Reports Posted Online
Pennsylvania Senate votes, debates, bills
and statutes - as well as
live video of Senate floor activity
- can be accessed online. The general public can read bills and
amendments, review text of floor debates, and see how senators voted.
Information is available for votes in committee and the full Senate.
Citizens can also track who is
lobbying, who individual lobbyists are representing, and how
they are spending their money. They can also see the number
of clients each lobbyist has and what each one is spending
State contracts are posted online as well, allowing
citizens to search for contracts by agency, contracting party, amount,
date and subject matter.
Instructions for accessing all of this information are listed below.
How To View Senate Votes and Debates
There are three ways
to find and view bills, as well as how legislators
voted: by bill number, keyword or date.
- Viewing bills and
votes by bill number: Go to the official
Pennsylvania State Senate website and in the
upper right corner select "Bill #." Enter a bill
number (e.g. "sb968" for "Senate Bill 968," or
"hb906" for "House Bill 906"). Click "Go!"
This takes you to a "Bill Information"
page. From this page, you can read: a "bill history" charting the
legislation's movements through the General
Assembly; floor votes and committee votes; and text
of the legislation, in its current form (Current PN)
and prior versions (Prior PN).
- Viewing bills and
votes by keywords: Go to the
Pennsylvania State Senate site and in the upper
right corner select "Keyword." Enter a keyword(s)
(e.g. "agriculture"), click "Go!", and a list of
bills containing the keyword will be displayed. From
there, you can access "Bill Information," as
- Viewing bills and
votes by date: Go to the
Pennsylvania State Senate site and under "Senate
Information" click on
Senate Roll Call Votes, which lists activity by
date. After selecting a date, you'll see each bill
or motion listed. By clicking on the link you'll be
able to view the vote tally as well as how each
"Senate Information" also lists votes
cast in committee, and
amendments considered on the Senate floor.
transcripts of debates and other activity from
the floor of the Senate, click on
Senate Legislative Journals, which are posted by date. (Journals are posted
upon Senate approval or within 45 days, whichever is earlier.)
chronicle each day's activity on the floor of the
Senate, including communications with the House of
Representatives and Governor's Office, amendments
offered on the floor, remarks by senators, debates
and vote tallies.
How to Search Pennsylvania Statutes
As part of its
effort to make state government more transparent, the Senate
now requires the placement of Pennsylvania's consolidated
statutes on the Internet.
For the first
time, citizens are able to search Pennsylvania's laws
online, dating back to 1975.
To look up
statutes, go to the official
Pennsylvania General Assembly website and look for
"Law Information." From there you can choose from
enacted legislation, rules and regulations, the PA Bulletin,
Legislative Reference Bureau and Consolidated Statutes.
You can search
by year, legislative session, act number, or type of
legislation. You can even view bills that were vetoed before
How To View Lobbyist Disclosure Reports
A list of lobbyists and related information are posted on the
Pennsylvania State Senate website under "Topics of Special Interest."
Here, you'll find links to
Department of State Lobbying Disclosure information, as well as a list of
Lobbyist Expenditures, which lists activity according to lobbyists, the
organizations they represent, policy areas and quarterly totals.
Act 134 of 2006, the Department of State must update the list by May 1 of
each odd-numbered year. Random audits will be conducted on the registrations
every two years.
Lobbyists who violate the law will be subject to civil fines of up to $2,000
and the possibility of being prohibited from paid lobbying for up to five years.
Groups that retain lobbyists and intentionally violate the law could receive a
fine of up to $25,000.
How to Search State Contracts
Pennsylvania taxpayers can access state contracts
worth $5,000 or more via a searchable database.
Act 3 of 2008, the Pennsylvania Treasury maintains a website with a
contracts search function that enables citizens to locate contract summaries,
contracts and other documents, such as purchase orders and amendments.
Contracts can be searched by agency, contracting
party, amount, date, subject matter, and contract number.
The contracts search page is
here, and the help
page is here.
Act 3 of 2008 established a strong Right-to-Know Law in Pennsylvania.
Under Act 3, for the first time in Pennsylvania history, citizens no longer have
to prove that a record is public and that it should be released. Now, a
government agency – state or local – must presume that a record is a public
record available for inspection or copying. If the government agency chooses to
withhold a record, the agency has the burden to prove – with legal citation –
why that record should not be available to the public.
More information about the new
Right-to-Know Law and how to request access to documents can be found at the
state’s Office of Open Records,
the Senate of Pennsylvania,
and the House of