Howard applauds House Democrats’ landmark ethics, voting and campaign finance reforms
“For the People” legislative package will return political power to the people
HARRISBURG, March 9 – State Rep. Kristine Howard, D-Chester, is urging the passage of legislation designed to strengthen democracy by improving access to voting, reducing the power of big-money corporate special interests, and ensuring lawmakers put the people’s interests first in Pennsylvania.
“A democracy is only as strong as its people, and the people show their strength at the polls,” Howard said. “The people are made up of more than deep-pocketed special interest groups. We must ensure everyone has access to the polls, and that everyone’s voice is heard. Otherwise, ‘a government of the people, by the people, and for the people’ is an empty phrase.”
Howard’s sentiments echoed those of House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody, D-Allegheny: “Nothing breaks down the people’s trust in their government and their elected officials like seeing deep-pocket donors get what they want while regular working families are left with nothing but the bill to pay.
“It’s time Pennsylvania took a leading role when it comes to honest elections, getting more people to the polls and making sure your voice counts more than special interest dollars.”
Dermody noted the Citizens United decision first opened the floodgates of hidden money into U.S. elections 10 years ago, and a combination of partisan gerrymandering, attacks on voting rights and foreign influence on elections has silenced the voice of the people – while the federal government has stood by and watched it happen.
“It’s important to remember that the assault on democracy didn’t start with Trump -- it started in the states,” said Daniel Squadron, co-founder and executive director of Future Now. “By expanding access to voting, reducing the power of corporate money in elections and strengthening ethics and oversight, the For the People Act will ensure that state governments are more accountable, responsive and focused on the broad public interest, not narrow special interests.”
The legislation is modeled after the federal For the People Act of 2019 (H.R. 1), the national democracy reform bill. Today’s announcement coincides with the one-year anniversary of HR1 passing the U.S. House of Representatives.
Bills in the For the People package include:
Voting & Election Access
Automatic Voter Registration
House Bill 306 (Rep. Ed Gainey, D-Allegheny) – Would automatically register people to vote when they utilize state services through the departments of Transportation, Human Services or Military and Veterans Affairs, unless they choose to opt out.
House Bill1556 (Rep. Sara Innamorato, D-Allegheny) – Would automatically register people to vote when they interact with PennDOT, access Pennsylvania’s health and human services benefit programs, or any other state service, unless they choose to opt-out.
Same Day Voter Registration
House Bill 101 (Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie) – Would allow same-day voter registration to ensure eligible Pennsylvanians have every opportunity to exercise their right to vote.
Pre-Registration of 16- and 17-year-olds
House Bill 704 (Rep. Brandon Markosek, D-Allegheny) – Would allow the state to provide resources for history and social studies teachers to coordinate an annual voter registration/preregistration event for high school students. The pre-registrants would not be eligible to vote until they reach age 18, but they would be ready and registered when that day comes.
House Bill 1558 (Rep. Jennifer O’Mara, D-Delaware) – Would allow voting to start on the 30th day before an election and extend through the end of the day before Election Day.
House Bill 401 (Rep. Mary Jo Daley, D-Montgomery) – Would establish an independent congressional redistricting commission comprised of individuals from both major political parties as well as individuals who do not affiliate with either party.
Limit Corporate Contributions
House Bill 795 (Rep. Frank Dermody, D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) – Would require companies looking to write campaign checks to ask their shareholders to name who they think should receive any donation over $10,000. The bill also would place hard caps on how much any campaign contribution can be.
Small Donor Financing of State Legislative Campaigns
House Bill 1953 (Rep. Kevin Boyle, D-Phila) – Would provide a 600% public match for qualified small dollar campaign contributions (less than $200) for candidates running for office.
Stop the Revolving Door
House Bill 2263 (Rep. Melissa Shusterman, D-Chester/Montgomery) – Would institute a lifetime lobbying ban for all elected public officials and extend the waiting period for public employees from one year to two years.