Governor signs bill to increase transparency in lobbying

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Lobbying is a $280 million industry in Pennsylvania, and Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday signed into law a bill to increase transparency.

House Bill 1775 changes the lobbyist disclosure law which was designed to let the public know who is influencing their government. Fines for lobbyists who don’t file expenditure reports to the Department of State are doubled from $2,000 to $4,000. Daily fines for failing to report are also increased, up to $200 a day after 20 days.

State Rep. Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) said his bill should go a long way in restoring the public’s faith in their elected officials, and Wolf agrees.

“To govern effectively, we need to rebuild trust in government,” Wolf said. “This legislation addresses a very big concern among Pennsylvania citizens, that Harrisburg politicians are more interested in the opinions of special interests than in their constituents.

Robert Torres, Acting Secretary of the Department of State, says the law will improve government operations.

“It will reduce commonwealth expenses and advances the law’s most important value: transparency,” Torres said.

The new law also makes the lobbying process more transparent by requiring the Department of State to post all disclosures online within seven days. Cutler says people will know who the lobbyists are, what they’re doing, and how they’re spending their money.

“If people believe in what we do, they have to believe in the process,” he said. “This makes the process more accountable. This makes it more transparent.”

The new penalties are effective immediately. The electronic filing changes to the law will go into effect in 60 days.

 

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