A Democratic and Republican state senator teamed up today to propose nine bills that would hold elected officials more accountable, keep lobbyists out of gaming license ownership, and force elected state officials to go without pay if they fail to adopt a timely Pennsylvania budget.
Sens. Mike Stack (D-Philadelphia) and John H. Eichelberger, Jr. (R-Blair) said their legislation, Senate Bill 750 to Senate Bill 758, would eliminate any doubt that taxpayers are getting the best deals in government contracting. And, it would hold elected officials, including the governor and his or her staff, more accountable to Pennsylvania citizens.
“We have to work harder to make even the appearance of impropriety a thing of the past,” Stack said.
“Money plays far too large of a role in public policy,” Eichelberger said. “Shining a light on how much and who gets it will go a long way to ensure more objective decision-making.”
One bill of the nine-bill package, SB750, would tighten the reporting of gifts by reducing the amount the reporting requirement of a gift received from $250 to $50.
“The people of Pennsylvania deserve to be confident that they have among the hardest working legislators in the country, and in many regards they do. This will help us accomplish that,” Stack said.
Another bill, SB756, would require members of the governor’s advisory commissions and task forces to report the campaign contributions they make to the governor. SB758 would turn the governor’s code of conduct into a state law.
To maintain strong oversight of the state’s gaming industry, Eichelberger and Stack said SB751 would prohibit lobbyists from owning a portion of a gaming license, and SB752 would bar them from serving as a campaign manager or political consultant for anyone seeking state office.
“Lobbyists should not be in positions to exert undue influence on lawmakers,” Eichelberger said. “Running a legislator’s campaign while lobbying that same legislator is a clear ethical conflict that should be prohibited.”
“People need to know every effort is made in Harrisburg to safeguard their tax dollars and keep daily business above board,” Stack said. “Lobbyists have a distinct and essential purpose in government, but it’s important they have a better defined arena in which to work. Our legislation accomplishes this.”
Other crucial legislation would hold a gubernatorial administration accountable by requiring vendor scores to be automatically posted when a contract is awarded (SB753), mandate vendors’ and contractors’ political contribution reports (SB754), and require contractors to identify the subcontractors they employ (SB755).
A summary of each bill is attached.
Stack and Eichelberger were joined at press conference by Sen. Rob Teplitz (D-Dauphin) and Rep. Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) who introduced other reform legislation last month in Harrisburg.
“There’s a growing coalition in the General Assembly that is listening to taxpayers and is working to make changes for the better,” Stack said.
“Now is the time for these changes. The public deserves better,” said Eichelberger.