House Democrats working for more government transparency

HARRISBURG, July 27 – House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody, Democratic Whip Jordan Harris and Democratic Appropriations Chairman Matt Bradford welcomed the decision by Gov. Tom Wolf to let an open records measure become law and said the legislature should pass other pending bills to bring additional transparency to Pennsylvania government.

More than a year ago, House Democrats proposed bills to add new dimensions of openness to state government, including:

  • Comprehensive campaign finance reform, including better disclosure of groups or individuals responsible for independent expenditures made in support of candidates (H.B. 795 sponsored by Dermody).
  • Tighter limits and better reporting of gifts to public officials and employees from special-interest lobbyists seeking to gain unfair advantages (H.B. 1291 sponsored by Rep. Tina Davis).
  • Improvements to voting and election processes (more than a dozen bills were introduced by multiple Democrats, including a comprehensive omnibus measure, H.B. 1560, sponsored by Rep. Chris Rabb).
  • A bill to prohibit lobbyists from also working as paid campaign consultants (H.B. 1421 sponsored by Rep. Tina Davis).

“At the start of the pandemic, under truly extraordinary circumstances, the Wolf administration had to delay responding to Right-To-Know inquiries,” Dermody said. “However, since May they have again been responding to these requests.

“Governor Wolf’s well-founded concerns about the safety of employees who are required to gather this information have been addressed to some degree and the new law simply codifies what’s already been happening. We are glad it’s now in effect.”

House Democrats unanimously backed the law in May to reinforce the principle of government openness, and the caucus leaders believe lawmakers should turn their attention to further reforms.

“We have enough scheduled session days left this year to work together in a bipartisan way to bring these real transparency bills forward. We can take constructive steps now to put the people first, ahead of deep-pocketed corporate special interests,” Dermody said.