Monday, February 07, 2005

Purchase yourself a State Rep

Surprise, surprise... Pa is one of the worst states in the Country for reporting how much lobbyists spend to influence PA lawmakers. And, of course, a law being proposed to change this looks like it has little chance of succeeding:

From The Inquirer:
A proposal to require lobbyists and their clients to publicly disclose how much money they spend trying to influence public policy has been assigned a bill number in the Senate. Similar legislation is expected to be introduced in the House next week.

Pennsylvania is one of only a few states that do not require disclosure of lobbying expenditures, and Rep. John Maher, who is sponsoring the House bill, says that encourages citizens to imagine the worst about what their elected representatives and special interests do behind the scenes in Harrisburg.

"Sunlight is a great disinfectant," said the Allegheny County Republican.

But the optimism that buoyed disclosure advocates in the last legislative session is gone this year, after they watched similar bills sail through committee reviews, only to be crushed in the Senate by partisan feuding and in the House by the Republican majority's refusal to allow a vote on the issue.

And, just in case you think this is chump change, it is not. The last year reporting was somewhat required, the number was around 52 million dollars. That is a lot of unreported money buying dinners, rounds of golf, and anything else those lobbyists are doing.

And then there is this:
In a 2003 ranking of states' lobbying disclosure laws by the Center for Public Integrity, a Washington-based investigative journalists' group, Pennsylvania was the only state to score a zero.

And, while I know this is a shock, guess why there is little chance of this passing:
House Republican leader Sam Smith, asked why lobbying disclosure was not included in a list of GOP priorities that leaders from the two chambers released last week, said House leaders oppose it.

"It's not on here because we're not in agreement, plain and simple," the Jefferson County lawmaker said.

So maybe it's another legislative session, but another long shot for lobbyist disclosure.

It looks like both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate are willing to get something done. Unfortunately, the House, the forward thinking kingdom of John Perzel and Sam Smith, probably will not even let it come up for a vote. Terrific.


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