Senate Republicans Introduce Bills to Limit Influence of Lobbyists, Political Consultants

HARRISBURG – A package of bills introduced by Senate Republicans today would subject lobbyists and political consultants to new transparency and ethical standards to limit their level of influence in state government.

The bills were introduced by Senator Bob Mensch (R-Montgomery), Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York), Senator Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) and Senator Tommy Tomlinson (R-Bucks).

Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R-Bellefonte) made the lobbyist reform package a top priority this legislative session and is a cosponsor of all five bills.

“It is important to draw a bright line between legislators, lobbyists and political consultants,” Corman said. “Adding the necessary layers of transparency and separation between all of these entities will help prevent conflicts of interest and ensure lobbyists and political consultants cannot play an inappropriate role in the legislative process.”

Senate Bill 801, sponsored by Mensch, would require lobbyists to register any clients seeking state financial assistance or grants and prohibit kick-backs and inducements for referrals or performance bonuses for a successful application for taxpayer-funded grants.

Senate Bill 802, sponsored by Phillips-Hill, would prohibit any state entity from hiring an outside lobbyist or political consultant to lobby any branch of government. The bill would also prohibit former lobbyists who become employees of the General Assembly from being lobbied by their previous colleagues for one year after separation from employment. This would prevent the revolving door of individuals leaving a lobbying firm to join the legislature and immediately being influenced by their former coworkers.

Senate Bill 803, sponsored by Baker, would prevent lobbyists from also being registered as political consultants and prohibits a political consultant from lobbying a state official who was a client for the remainder of the term for which consulting services were provided.

Senate Bill 804, sponsored by Tomlinson, would require all registered lobbyists to complete mandatory annual ethics training developed by the Department of State.

Another lobbying reform became law in July. Act 70 of 2021 requires lobbyists to disclose any equity they hold in any entity for which they are lobbying.

 

CONTACT: Jason Thompson