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Pennsy lobby bill doesn't pass

July 04, 2006

Pennsylvania lawmakers were recently able to get together on a budget proposal that holds the promise of cutting property taxes.

But deciding how to rein in the state's lobbyists proved a bit more difficult. We urge those activists who were energized by lawmakers' midnight pay raises to revisit the lobbyist issue during the next session.

The failure to pass a bill leaves Pennsylvania with the dubious distinction of being the only state not to regulate lobbyists' behavior. To be fair, it's not for lack of trying.

In 2002, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court voided the disclosure law that existed then because justices said that only the high court had the right to set standards of behavior for lawyer/lobbyists.

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Since then, it hasn't been easy coming up with something both houses can agree on. House Speaker John Perzel told The Associated Press this week that the Senate would not agree to any compromises, insisting that its version of the bill should become law.

Sen. Robert C. Jubelirer, the senate's president pro tempore, said he hoped that the differences could be worked out over the summer.

What the two houses do agree on is a start. Lobbyists would be required to register with the State Department in any quarter in which they spent $2,500 on lobbying activities. The same would go for corporations and other agencies that employ lobbyists.

What is being talked about is not a ban on lobbying, but a requirement that lobbyists disclose what they're spending and to what end.

Pennsylvania has just weathered a storm generated by lawmakers who wanted pay raises they weren't entitled to. During the summer, elected officials should consider what they can do in the next term to win back the public's trust.

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