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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: April 29, 2020 03:22 PM
From: Representative Danielle Friel Otten
To: All House members
Subject: Fighting Corporate Misinformation
Some corporations have a track record of providing regulators and regulatory agencies with false information, whether through outright statements or through biased, non-peer-reviewed research. One often-cited case is Exxon, which knowingly provided false research to Congress that resulted in long-term environmental damage to communities across the country, but examples can also be found in industries ranging from food, pharmaceutical, and tobacco to the financial sector. Given the frequent need for our state regulatory agencies to make decisions affecting our Commonwealth, the submission of false or misleading information could have significant and lasting impacts on the health and wellbeing of our citizens, our environment, and our economy.

There is currently no state law preventing individuals working on behalf of an industry from knowingly making false statements to state regulators. Additionally, there is no law that prevents non-peer reviewed research from being used in the rulemaking process. State regulators try their best to make decisions that benefit the overall well-being of our Commonwealth and our residents; they should not have to worry whether the data they are provided comes with malintent.

This is why I am introducing a bill package that would combat corporate perjury and ensure integrity and objectivity in research.

Document #1

Description: Bill #1

This legislation would extend perjury provisions to corporations in any industry that knowingly make a false or misleading statement to state regulators. Similar to current perjury provisions, prosecutors would have a high bar to prove that someone knowingly lied and would have to prove any case beyond a reasonable doubt. There would be no penalty for mistakes. 

Document #2

Description: Bill #2

This legislation would require industry actors who submit non-peer-reviewed research to state agencies to disclose how that research was funded, whether those funders had direct input on the research findings, and the nature of any past or ongoing financial relationships between the researchers and their financial backers. There would be no penalty for good faith research that turns out to be wrong. Please join me in ensuring that good faith measures are put in place to help protect Pennsylvanians from intentional efforts to mislead and misinform. Your support and consideration are greatly appreciated.