MANDATORY ELECTRONIC FILING OF CAMPAIGN FINANCES
Pennsylvania is one of only eight states in the country that does not require electronic filing for any state legislative or statewide office. This policy is bad for several reasons. First, it's antiquated, in the Internet Age over 60% of financial reports are still submitted on paper. Second, this inhibits the ability for citizens and journalists to get up-to-date information about who is financing the candidates they need to know about. The Department of State (DoS) must hire a third party vendor to convert the paper reports to an electronic format that can be posted on the DoS's campaign finance disclosure website. This can delay campaign finance data from being posted by up to 72 hours after the deadline (sometimes after an election takes place). Third, this process costs the state money since they have to hire the third party vendor to transmit the paper records into a digital format.
As the Sunlight Foundation states, "The Supreme Court recognizes that “‘provid[ing] the electorate with information’ about the sources of election-related spending … would help citizens ‘‘make informed choices in the political marketplace.’” We need to be able to see who is giving what to which candidates to evaluate whether new officials are favoring campaign donors — with contracts, state support or other favorable outcomes."
Several attempts have been made in the past few years to update the law and bring Pennsylvania into the 21st Century. But for one reason or another, those bills have died. Commonwealth Commonsense believes now is the time for things to change. That is why we are working with the Ridge Policy Group to advocate for Pennsylvania to modernize.
Currently, two bills are being considered by the General Assembly: Senate Bill 346, authored by Senator Pat Browne (R - Lehigh) and House Bill 859, authored by Representative Mark Keller (R - Perry/Cumberland). We support these legislators' efforts to promote common sense good government policy. We are working with them and their colleagues to see this legislation get passed.