HARRISBURG, PA – The State Senate (November 10) gave final approval of legislation aimed at interjecting greater efficiency and transparency into Pennsylvania’s Campaign Finance reporting system, according to Senate Appropriations Chairman Pat Browne (R-Lehigh), who authored the bill.
Senate Bill 140 will require all candidates for office and political action committees in Pennsylvania required to file with the Secretary of the Commonwealth to electronically file their campaign finance reports utilizing the Department of State’s online filing system.
“I believe this legislation both strengthens transparency as well as modernizes Pennsylvania’s campaign finance reporting requirements,” Senator Browne said. “It will expedite public access to reports, improve accountability and reduce expenses for the Department of State.”
Currently, candidates and committees have the option of filing their campaign finance reports through paper submission, which is outdated, costly, and inefficiently necessitates Department of State staff to upload copies to the Department’s website, delaying the public’s access to candidate’s reports. If a member of the public wished to view the reports in a timely manner, they currently would have to either travel to Harrisburg; or pay for copies to be sent by mail.
The bill also increases penalties for late filings, allows for an exemption for individuals without computer access, establishes a training program for users of the online filing system and requires the Department of State to ensure that all information is available in a publicly searchable database within four days.
At least 32 states already require electronic filing. Pennsylvania must not be left behind in the era of increased public transparency online.
Senate Bill 140 now moves to the House of Representatives for its consideration.