HARRISBURG, Pa. (WTAJ) — Republican Speaker of the House Bryan Cutler introduced a package of legislation that would bring about new rules for lobbyists in Harrisburg, including more transparency.
Cutler, joined by various Republicans of the Pennsylvania House, made the announcement Friday in an attempt to “ensure that the voices of the people of Pennsylvania are not silenced by those who try to pay for access and influence,” according to the release.
“Pennsylvanians are already paying for people to lobby on behalf of their interests in the state Capitol,” Cutler said. “The elected members of the House and Senate are their lobbyists. The voters chose us to represent their interests and carry their message into the work we do here.”
The 12 pieces of legislation will reportedly increase openness and transparency in the lobbying process, limit the influence of professional lobbyists, and hold lobbyists to a higher standard of ethical conduct.
“I introduced the last major lobbying reform package in Harrisburg 15 years ago,” Cutler said. “I announced my support for this package earlier this session and today is an important next step to remind the lobbying community that if they want to continue to play a role in our processes, they will be held to the highest standards.”
The legislation in the package is:
- HB 1599 Rep. Joe Kerwin (R-Dauphin/Schuylkill) and Rep. Brett Miller (R-Lancaster): Would require lobbyists to disclose and register any lobbying client conflict with the Department of State.
- HB 1600 Rep. Tracy Pennycuick (R-Montgomery): Would require campaign consultants who operate within the Commonwealth to register with the Department of State.
- HB 1601 Reps. Joe Hamm (R-Lycoming/Union), Kerwin and Miller: Would require lobbyists to register with the Department of State any equity they may hold in an entity on behalf of which they are lobbying.
- HB 1602 Miller: Would require lobbyists to specifically register with the Department of State any clients for which they seek state financial assistance or grant program.
- HB 1603 Reps. Andrew Lewis (R-Dauphin) and Dawn Keefer (R-York): Would prohibit campaign consultants from concurrently being registered lobbyists and engaging in lobbying elected officials.
- HB 1604 Keefer: Would prohibitlobbyists from collecting an inducement through a third-party affiliate upon a successful public taxpayer dollar-funded state grant program.
- HB 1605 Rep. Craig Williams (R-Delaware): Would prohibit lobbyists from receiving/paying referral payments from/to another individual, lobbying firm or campaign consultant.
- HB 1606 Rep. Seth Grove (R-York): Would implement recommendations made by the House Government Oversight Committee – including making lobbyists primary reporters, strengthening audit requirements and restructuring the fees used to pay for the administration of the lobby disclosure law.
- HB 1607 Reps. Russ Diamond (R-Lebanon), Perry Stambaugh (R-Perry/Cumberland), Keefer and Miller: Would prohibit any state entity from hiring an outside lobbyist or consultant to influence the Legislature, Administration or Judiciary.
- HB 1608 Stambaugh and Kerwin: Would prohibit new employees of the General Assembly who were previously a registered lobbyist from being lobbied for one year after their registered lobby status expired.
- HB 1609 Reps. Matthew Dowling (R-Fayette/Somerset) and Brian Smith (R-Jefferson/Indiana): Would require all registered lobbyists to complete a mandatory ethics training on an annual basis.
- HR 114 Cutler: Would urge the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania to reform its rules to promote openness, transparency and greater confidence in the integrity of the judiciary, judicial employees and attorneys formerly employed by government entities.
The legislation was referred to the House State Government committee.