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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: January 27, 2017 02:41 PM
From: Senator Patrick M. Browne
To: All Senate members
Subject: Requiring the Electronic Filing of Campaign Finance Reports
 
In the near future, I intend to reintroduce legislation that was introduced as Senate Bill 778 in the 2013-14 legislative session. This legislation would require that all candidates for office and political action committees in Pennsylvania utilize the Department of State’s online filing system to electronically file campaign finance reports.

Paper filing of campaign finance reports is outdated, costly, and inefficient. Requiring all filings to be electronically filed would greatly improve government transparency and accountability while at the same time reducing expenses for the state. According to the Department of State, a third of all campaign finance reports are already filed electronically. If the other two-thirds of candidates and political action committees were to file electronically, the existing online system would be able to handle it with no additional cost.

Most importantly, this system will greatly hasten the process of disclosure to keep up with political and legislative developments. Due to lack of funding, all reports that have not been filed electronically are not immediately transferred from paper to the online database that is available to the public. Because of this, Commonwealth citizens and public watchdog groups are unable to efficiently gain access to these public documents. Instead, if a member of the public wants to see a recent campaign finance report, they would have to either travel to Harrisburg; or, pay for copies of the report to be sent by mail or email.

Currently, at least 32 states require electronic filing. Pennsylvania must not be left behind in the era of increased public transparency online. We have the technology to give our citizens the transparent government they deserve while saving the tax payers money.

Cosponsors of Senate Bill 778 in the 2013-14 session included Senators BAKER, YAW, TEPLITZ, FERLO, MENSCH, WASHINGTON, RAFFERTY, BLAKE, VOGEL, FONTANA, FARNESE, SOLOBAY, WHITE, VANCE, PILEGGI, ALLOWAY, BRUBAKER, COSTA, BREWSTER and BOSCOLA.

Similar legislation was also introduced last session by Senator Pileggi as Senate Bill 389.



Introduced as SB346