Thursday, October 31, 2019

House Oversight Committee Makes 16 Recommendations On Changes To Lobbying Law, Reporting Program

The first investigative report of the House Oversight Committee was released on October 30 making 16 recommendations for changing the state lobbying registration and reporting law and program.  
Among the findings in the report are--
-- Current law makes it difficult to identify and enforce lobbyist registration violations;
-- Lobbyists lack knowledge of principal’s spending making verification meaningless;
-- Lobbyists ability to apportion gifts, hospitality, transportation and lodging expenses among their principles to keep below the $3,000 reporting threshold skews the perception of the amounts spent on public officials and employees;
-- The law’s audit provisions and their implementation need to be revamped, improved;
-- Keeping audit reports confidential serves little purpose;
-- There is current no follow up when audits disclose violations;
-- Audit provisions should be changed to allow a risk-based selection process;
-- The electronic registration and reporting systems need to be updated;
-- $300 registration fee discourages registration and revenue produced is insufficient to support administrative costs; 
-- Annual reports should be complete on time and posted on the Internet; and
-- Regulations on administration and enforcement need to be updated. 
Changes In Law
The following changes in law are recommended in the report--
1. Enact legislation to make lobbyists the primary reporter.
2. Audits:
a. Enact legislation to add a provision that auditee selection will be done by risk.
b. Enact legislation to remove the confidentiality requirement.
c. Enact legislation to remove the potential for conflict of interests to ensure 
auditors were not principals during the audit periods.
3. Enact legislation to ensure DOS can communicate audit findings to the SEC.
4. Enact legislation to clarify what DOS and SEC are to provide in their Annual Reports
and provide a date for when they need submitted.
5. Enact legislation to clarify DOS is to staff the Lobbying Disclosure Regulation
Committee and how often the Committee should meet to review regulations.
6. Enact legislation to ensure the primary reasons for the adoption of regulations are to
ensure transparency and assist stakeholders in complying with the law.
7. Repeal requirements to charge a fee for lobbyist registration and use revenues from
the sales and use tax on lobbying to cover the expenses of the Department for
lobbying disclosure.
Dept. Of State Actions
The report recommends these actions be taken by the Department of State--
1. The Lobbying Disclosure Regulations Commission must meet to update its regulations
based on the passage of Act 2 of 2018.
2. If the Department decides to upgrade is electronic registration and reporting, the
following should be adopted:
a. Ensure a high-level official within the Department has jurisdiction.
b. Ensure the Department can cross-check data.
c. Create a stakeholder advisory group of users to direct the development.
d. Ensure the system is user friendly for the general public.
3. Ensure when individuals register as lobbyists, the Department requires that individual
signs the paperwork.
4. The Department should continue using employees for Lobbying Disclosure and
Campaign and Elections. This has proven to be an efficient and cost-effective means to
staff both bureaus. The Department should also provide their cost allocation plans in
their annual reports and budget documents.

Thursday PA Capitol NewsClips 10.31.19

-- 57 percent believe state is headed in the right direction, in July 51 percent
-- 51 percent say Gov. Wolf is doing excellent or good job, up from 47 percent in July
-- Top problems: taxes 16 percent, government & politicians 12 percent, education 11 percent, crime/drugs 10 percent, economy 9 percent
-- 58 percent support legalizing marijuana; 32 percent more likely to support if marijuana sold in state liquor stores
-- 75 percent strongly supports gun background checks, 62 percent red flag gun laws
National Issues
-- Joe Biden top choice for Presidents among Democrats (30 percent), Elizabeth Warren (18 percent), Bernie Sanders 12 percent
-- 35 percent believe Trump is going an excellent or good job; 37 percent believe he deserves re-election, 59 percent believe it's time for a change 
-- 57 percent support impeachment inquiry, breaking along party lines
-- 21 percent believe it's acceptable for a President to ask a foreign leader to investigate a political opponent
[Note: More results coming later on broadband access, 5G]
Thursday PA Environment & Energy NewsClips 10.31.19 -- Click Here

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Wednesday PA Capitol NewsClips 10.30.19

PLS Reporter: A Commonwealth Court Judge has halted the certification of votes on the Marsy's Law ballot initiative in next week's election. Would delay implementation of the victim's rights amendment if it were to be supported by voters
House has canceled session for Nov. 12, 13, 14 will next return to voting session with the Senate on Nov. 18
AP-Levy: Election Reform Bill Now Headed To Governor’s Desk
Wednesday PA Environment & Energy NewsClips 10.30.19 -- Click Here

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Tuesday PA Capitol NewsClips 10.29.19

Tuesday PA Environment & Energy NewsClips 10.29.19 -- Click Here