State increases fines for late lobbyist spending reports
Being late with their paperwork will cost state lobbyists more under a new law that takes effect in about two months.
Current law penalizes them $50 a day for every day they’re late in filing their quarterly spending reports with the state Ethics Commission.
The House and Senate passed a bill earlier this month that replaces the flat fine with a graduated fine that increases the daily penalty based on how many days the report is overdue. Gov. Tom Wolf signed the bill into law Wednesday.
The new fine is $50 per day for the first 10 days, $100 per day for the next 10 days and $200 per day after that.
The Ethics Commission issues about 20 fines per year for late filings, according to a Senate fiscal note attached to the legislation. The fines generate an average of $60,000 in revenue for the state, which comes out to each report being about 60 days late.
The same averages for the number of late reports and average number of days would produce about $190,000 in fines.
The new law also requires lobbyists to file all their reports through the commission’s online system. Currently about 80 percent of reports are filed online.
The current law makes several activities by lobbyists illegal , such as getting a legislator to introduce a bill so that the lobbyist can then hire himself out to oppose that bill. The current civil penalty is capped at $2,000. The new law raises the cap to $4,000.
Brian Bowling is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1218, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @TribBrian.