Senate Approves Lobbying Accountability Act Senate Bill 1 Would set standards for public disclosure

The State Senate today approved a good government measure designed to give the public a complete, accessible and clear accounting of lobbyist activity in Pennsylvania, according to Sen. John R. Gordner (R-27), who cosponsored the measure.

“We designated this measure as Senate Bill 1 because it is among our top legislative priorities this session,” Sen. Gordner said.  “This bill ensures that there is an obligation to disclose who is working on legislation and how much is being spent to advocate those changes. It is a major step forward for more open, accountable government in Pennsylvania.”

The “Lobbying Accountability Act” would shed more light on the scope and nature of lobbyists’ work in Pennsylvania by requiring lobbyists and principals to register every two years and to report their spending four times a year.

“I am pleased that this important bill is moving forward,” Senator Gordner said. “This is good policy and a necessary step to maintain the public’s confidence in the decisions made by state lawmakers.”

The Senate adopted a rule during the 2003-2004 session and again in the current session that requires lobbyists to register and report their spending as it relates to lobbying the Senate.  This rule remains the only lobbyist disclosure requirement in effect.

In compliance with the Senate Rule, approximately $200 million in lobbyist spending was reported for calendar years 2003 and 2004.

“No person, group or organization should be barred from expressing their opinions or from trying to bring about changes through our political process,” Sen. Gordner said.  “However, along with those rights comes the obligation to disclose what is being spent.”

Under Senate Bill 1, reports will be filed regularly with the Department of State.  The state Ethics Commission will conduct audits and undertake investigations.  The Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court will receive information and conduct investigations of matters involving lawyer/lobbyists.  The state Attorney General will provide high-level enforcement in conjunction with the Disciplinary Board.

In addition, Senate Bill 1 addresses issues raised by the Supreme Court when it struck down an earlier lobbyist disclosure law.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for its consideration.

CONTACT:    Todd B. Roup – 717-787-8928