Monday, July 03, 2006

Lobbyist disclosure act can't ever be Constitutional

It is the Pennsylvania incumbents who should disclose the monies/donations/contributions/in-kind services and so forth they receive from whomever to fund their election or re-election campaigns. Oh gee, let me check, but I believe there are already laws regarding political candidates disclosing their financial status before, during, and after an election.

Lobbyist disclosure as is not likely to pass PA Constitutional muster. Again. Or ever.

It didn't in the past.

Well, we can all google on that to our heart's and obsessive-compulsive disorder's content. How can requiring a lobbyist, an individual engaged in a legal occupation, to disclose all kinds of particulars be something anybody who values privacy and freedom would want?

The key word is "lobbyist." Just insert any other occupation, how about journalist? How about teacher? How about baby-sitter?

Lobbyist disclosure is another issue for the populist agenda bandwagon.

Another issue state legislators can claim hey we're trying to rein "them" in - those nasty (Fortune 500, capitalist) lobbyists.

Another issue would-be legislators can claim they are not doing something about this, but I will, I promise.

Another issue for the media to write about in ha non-biased news articles and editorials.

Another subject for "good government" speakers to add to their reportoirre during press association luncheons.

Who cares about our basic INHERENT RIGHTS? Not a whole bunch, that's for certain.

Why target lobbyists? Easy game, that's why.

The Governor of PA knows how to satiate the drooling media, and foggy-brained public, though...

Note the answers - that's right, this is all voluntary and without any meat or substance, people, as it would be unconstitutional to require such compliance or deny someone an inherent right to pursue a legal gainful employment activity!

Question 9What are the sanctions that will apply against lobbyists who fail to comply with these requirements?

AnswerAbsent legislation, the Governor does not have the authority to impose penalties or sanctions against lobbyists who do not comply with this Executive Order since they are not executive branch employees who fall directly within his jurisdiction. Therefore the Executive Order will depend on voluntary compliance by lobbyists, the due diligence of state employees and the increased public scrutiny that should occur by establishing the registration and reporting process. To correct this situation, the General Assembly could pass, and in fact has enacted in the past, comprehensive legislation to require direct registration and reporting by lobbyists and to provide for sanctions for non-compliance by those that lobby any branch of state government. If the Legislature were to enact a meaningful lobbyist registration and disclosure bill, it should require lobbyists to register and complete detailed expense reports on their activities, and enforce these provisions with civil and criminal sanctions. Such legislation should cover lobbying of all state officials, including the Executive Branch officials. The change to the Code of Conduct proposed by the Governor represents the best way to accomplish Executive Branch lobbying disclosure under existing law.

Question 10Can’t the Ethics Commission enforce registration and reporting requirements for lobbyists?

AnswerNo. The Ethics Commission has only as much power as the Legislature has given it. The Legislature has not passed legislation giving the Commission enforcement power against lobbyists who do not comply with Executive Branch rules about registration and disclosure. Indeed, the Legislature has not enacted lawful legislation requiring lobbyists to register in the first place.

Lobbying disclosure left out of budget bill
By Brad BumstedSTATE CAPITOL REPORTERMonday, July 3, 2006

HARRISBURG - Pennsylvania still holds the distinction of being the only state without a lobbyist disclosure law.

Legislation to require uniform reporting of how much businesses, groups and associations spend to lobby elected officials was one of the casualties over the weekend in the scramble to pass a $26 billion state budget. Gov. Ed Rendell signed the budget into law early Sunday.

The House and Senate each passed versions of lobbyist disclosure rules but could not agree on what should go to the governor. The measure has changed repeatedly as legislators wrangled over how tough to make the requirements and how much to ask lobbyists to disclose. Leaders said they hoped to break the impasse by the time lawmakers return in mid-September.
Rep. John Maher, R-Upper St. Clair, who sponsored the House bill, said senators did not take enough time to resolve the differences between the two measures.

Sen. Robert C. Jubelirer, the chamber's president pro tempore who was the architect of the Senate bill, said a key point of dispute was what would trigger a requirement for lobbyists to report services they provide to lawmakers and officials of the executive branch.

Under both versions, lobbyists would have to register with the State Department once they receive more than $2,500 in a financial quarter for lobbying activities. Corporations, trade groups and others that employ lobbyists would have to register once they spend more than $2,500 in a financial quarter. Both would have to file reports categorizing how they spent the money.

How they voted

Here's how Western Pennsylvania legislators voted Saturday on the $26 billion state budget bill, which passed 130-68 vote in the House and 28-21 in the Senate.
Allegheny County: Paul Costa (D), Yes; Anthony DeLuca (D), Yes; Frank Dermody (D), Yes; Michael Diven (R), Yes; Shawn Flaherty (D), Yes; Dan Frankel (D), Yes; Marc Gergely (D), Yes; Nick Kotik (D), Yes; David Levdansky (D), Not voting; John Maher (R), No; Joseph Markosek (D), Yes; Mark Mustio (R), No; Thomas Petrone (D), Yes; Frank Pistella (D), Yes; Joseph Preston (D), Yes; Harry Readshaw (D), Yes; Kenneth Ruffing (D), Yes; Thomas Stevenson (R), No; Mike Turzai (R), No; Don Walko (D), Yes; Jake Wheatley (D), Yes
Armstrong County: Jeffrey Pyle (R), No
Beaver County: Vincent Biancucci (D), Yes; Sean Ramaley (D), Yes; Michael Veon (D), Yes
Butler County: Brian Ellis (R), No; Daryl Metcalfe (R), No
Washington County: Peter Daley (D), Yes; Victor John Lescovitz (D), Yes; Timothy Solobay (D), Yes
Westmoreland County: R. Ted Harhai (D), Yes; John Pallone (D), Yes; Joseph Petrarca (D), Yes; Jess Stairs (R), No; Thomas Tangretti (D), Yes
Allegheny County: Jay Costa (D), Yes; Jim Ferlo (D), Yes; Wayne Fontana (D), Yes; Sean Logan (D), Yes; Jane Clare Orie (R), No; John Pippy (R), No
Beaver County: Gerald LaValle (D), Yes
Washington County: J. Barry Stout (D), Yes

By Brad Bumsted

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