Trib editorial: Tougher Pa. lobbyist disclosure law boosts transparency |

Trib editorial: Tougher Pa. lobbyist disclosure law boosts transparency


Here’s something we wish we could say much more often: Score one for transparency and accountability in Harrisburg — thanks to a new measure that stiffens Pennsylvania’s lobbyist-disclosure law.

House Bill 1175 was passed in bipartisan fashion, with overwhelming House and Senate majorities, and signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf. It immediately doubles the state Ethics Commission’s maximum penalty for lobbyists who violate the disclosure law, from $2,000 to $4,000. It also increases the flat $50-per-day maximum penalty lobbyists had been paying for late disclosure filings. They’ll now pay $50 a day for the first 10 days, $100 a day for days 11 through 20, then $200 for each additional day.

But what’s more important — and more valuable — for Pennsylvanians is that all lobbyists will now be required to file disclosures with the Department of State electronically, which State must post online within seven days of filing. This provision means the public soon will have online access to updated information on who’s registered to lobby, what causes they’re lobbying for, and their spending on those causes’ behalf.

There’s nothing wrong with lobbying per se, but when it’s done in the shadows, suspicions arise. This new law counters such suspicions by shedding light. After all, the more the people know about who’s seeking to influence legislation in Harrisburg, the better they can judge whose interests lawmakers actually represent.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.