Phillips-Hill proposes to reform state’s lobbying laws

Plan would extend “revolving door” and ban lobbyists from serving in appointed state government positions

HARRISBURG – Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York) outlined her plans to reform the state’s outdated rules pertaining to lobbyists by requiring a longer “cooling off” period for former state legislators, officials and employees who become lobbyists, as well as banning any lobbyist from holding an appointed position in state government.

Under Phillips-Hill’s forthcoming proposal, any state employee, legislator or official would have to wait at least two years before he or she could lobby the body where they were formerly employed. For example, a former state representative would be prohibited from lobbying the House of Representatives for two years. The practice, also known as the revolving door, allows former legislators to come back within a year of leaving the chamber where they served to assist clients on state-related matters.

“By extending this lobbying moratorium to two years, we can match our laws with the length of a legislative session so no legislator can resign his or her seat and be back at the table with a client in tow to have an unfair and insider’s advantage within the same legislative session. This is the sort of behavior that upsets the hardworking taxpayers I represent,” she said.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 14 states have a “cooling off” period of at least two years. The current law in Pennsylvania delays the revolving door for one year.

The senator is also seeking to prohibit registered lobbyists from being appointed to various state agency boards, commissions, councils and/or committees. Phillips-Hill argues that some appointments come with six-figure salaries, yet still allows those members to retain their lobbying practice as well.

“This is a classic example of the camel’s nose under the tent,” she said. “You need to pick a lane – either be a lobbyist or a public servant. The current practice erodes public trust.”

The senator notes in her memo sent to her colleagues that no paid lobbyist should be able to have an inside track in advising state agencies, commissions and schools on matters that may pose as a conflict of interest.

AUDIO: Phillips-Hill discusses her two forthcoming proposals
AUDIO: Phillips-Hill discusses her concerns with the status quo and why she is pursuing these changes

Phillips-Hill is circulating both memos around the Senate before formally introducing the bills. View her memos here and here.

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