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State Senate Passes Campaign Finance Proposal to House

A proposal aiming to provide more transparency to campaign finance data has passed the state Senate.

Candidates for statewide office and the General Assembly would have to file their campaign finance reports electronically under the plan. They, along with political action committees, could also trigger more frequent filing deadlines if they raise $10,000 or more in a calendar year.

Sen. Larry Farnese (D-Philadelphia) said more frequent filings are especially important for citizens who want to see what kind of contributions come to members of the General Assembly during a busy legislative season.

"In this budget cycle right now, we have liquor privatization going to be coming up for a vote," he said. "We have issues like transportation, you know, where lobbyists are supporting candidates and candidates are raising money on issues. We want to make sure we can see who is supporting who and what's going on."

The $10,000 threshold was a late-stage change to the bill. An earlier incarnation, about which Farnese voiced concern in committee, put the threshold at $100,000. Farnese said making it that low means candidates for state House are more likely to be affected by the legislation — and they're the ones who get to consider the bill next.

The chamber's GOP spokesman was noncommittal on whether it would get a vote.

"We'll consider it," Steve Miskin said. He said many members of the state House see the prospect of additional campaign finance report filing requirements as a burden on campaigns that are small operations.

But Farnese said un-professionalized campaign staffs would be a poor reason to table the bill.

"Many of these members on both sides of the aisle in the House campaigned on this," Farnese said. "You know, remember good government, transparency, reform? This is reform."

Correction: An earlier version of this story inaccurately reported that additional reporting requirements would be triggered if a candidate/PAC raises $10,000 or more in a month. Those requirements would be triggered if $10,000 or more was raised in a calendar year. The story has been updated.